New Zealand has announced a two-way, quarantine free travel with Australia ahead of the Cook Islands in a bid to revive their tourism sector, giving some hope to the struggling local industry.
Local businesses have welcomed the
announcement of trans-Tasman bubble between New Zealand and Australia, starting
on April 19 (NZ time).
And they are now hoping and praying New
Zealand will make way for a two-way quarantine free travel with the Cooks to
allow Kiwis to visit the country.
Fletcher Melvin, the chair of the Private
Sector Taskforce, says New Zealand has a lot more to gain from the trans-Tasman
According to Tourism New Zealand, prior to
Covid-19, Australia was New Zealand’s largest international visitor market,
accounting for almost half of all international visitor arrivals and spent $2.7
billion in 2019.
“New Zealand needs to understand we are in the
same situation as they are,” Melvin said.
Liana Scott, the president of the Cook Islands
Tourism Industry Council, also welcomed the trans-Tasman bubble, saying she
sees positive effects on the local industry.
“In fact, I feel that the two-way bubble is
enhanced by having the ability to potentially access the Australian market as
well as New Zealand. The recent announcement has indicated what travel ‘rules’
can be expected depending on what potential threats may be out there, for
example, the traffic light arrangement and traveller beware,” Scott, the
general manager of Muri Beach Club Hotel, said.
“New Zealand has a population of 5 million and
Australia 2 5million. Australia is Fiji’s biggest tourism market, and these
holiday makers will be desperately looking for a safe destination to travel to,
and with the Cook Islands holding its Covid-free status from the beginning, we
certainly become a very appealing destination and for good reason.
“We also have a large Cook Islands community
in Australia that I am sure would like to see their families.”
Prime Minister Mark Brown earlier said the
government will be amending border restrictions “very soon” to allow Kiwi
travelers to visit Cook Islands from May 1, 2021.
However it remains unclear if Kiwis will be
permitted to return to NZ after a Raro vacation without facing any travel
“The Cook Islands prime minister has stated
publicly that we will be ready to accept visitors from the 1st may 2021. The
interest of Australians travelling to us logistically is not a question I can
answer, but I would imagine that if they are ticking all the boxes for travel
to New Zealand, whom have been very conservative and risk adverse in their
decision making, and NZ is happy to receive travel from them, then I see no
reason why they would not be keen in travelling to the Cook Islands for a taste
of Polynesia in their holiday plans,” Scott said.
“The demand is sure to influence those plans/the
airlines and we look forward to getting back to business and have visitors
experience our wonderful destination.”
While announcing the trans-Tasman bubble, New
Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “It is fair to say trans-Tasman has
been a major focus.”
“The next focus for us is opening two-way
quarantine-free travel with the Cook Islands. You’ll know that we’re working
NZ’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins
added: “We are in discussions with the Cook Islands and Niue in particular who
are very keen to have a safe travel zone with New Zealand, and the things that
we’ve put in place to support the trans-Tasman safe travel zone will certainly