New Zealanders can’t wait for the return of quarantine-free transtasman travel.
More than half of those surveyed in a New Zealand Herald-Kantar poll were considering booking a flight to Australia in the next year.
The transtasman bubble starts on Monday, meaning New Zealanders will be able to go to Australia and return without having to go into quarantine – albeit with the caveat of potential quarantine if there is an outbreak of Covid-19.
In a NZ Herald-Kantar poll, 31 per cent of people said they would consider going in the next six months – and about half of those were keen to go in the next three months.
Aucklanders were especially keen to go. After a series of lockdowns in the city, nearly two thirds of Aucklanders polled hoped to go to Australia in the next year, compared to 56 per cent of Wellingtonians, and 46 per cent of those in the rest of the North Island.
Overall, 54 per cent were keen to go over the next year. Only 24 per cent said they did not intend to visit Australia at all – a figure that was high for those on low incomes of less than $50,000.
Air NZ has reported 5200 passengers are expected to travel on the first day of the bubble opening. Of those, 2100 will be travelling from New Zealand to Australia.
Chief executive Greg Foran said it was “day 1 of our revival”.
It will re-ignite one of New Zealand’s most critical destinations.
Tourism Australia data shows only 147,000 New Zealanders travelled to Australia in the year ending January 2021 – down 90 per cent from pre-Covid travel of 1.4 million in the year before that.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s warnings people need to be prepared to foot the bill to stay for longer if there is an outbreak of Covid-19 do not seem to have dampened appetite.
However, many are waiting a while; 7 per cent of those polled plan to make almost immediate use of the bubble by going in the next month.
The online poll of 1000 adult respondents was taken from the ConsumerLink panel from April 8 to April 12 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent.
The Government and tourism sector are resting their hopes on people coming the other way -from Australia to New Zealand – and will be keeping a close eye on whether intentions become a reality.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Rene de Monchy said it would focus on encouraging Australians to try to ensure travellers went through with their intentions.
“Ease and access to travel will have a strong influence. While we know there are resilient travellers motivated to connect with friends and family or for business reasons, we anticipate that many will take a ‘wait and see approach’.”
The first tranche of people flying both ways are expected to be those visiting friends or family – but business people and holiday makers are expected to follow soon after.
Before Covid-19, New Zealanders travelling to Australia spend about $2.3 billion there each year, and Australians spent $2.7 billion here in 2019.
Tourism NZ’s modelling in April estimated the bubble would result in the rebound of tourism from Australia to 80 per cent of pre-Covid levels by January 2022. However, it could take until July 2023 for spending by all international tourists to return to 80 per cent of pre-Covid levels.
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said Tourism NZ was about to start a marketing campaign in Australia to lure visitors across. That is expected to include a focus on skiing holidays as winter approaches.
However, Nash said he would still prefer New Zealanders to spend their holiday dollars at home.
“But if people think it’s just Australians coming here and nothing else, they will be wrong. It is a two-way process. Of course New Zealanders are going to go to Australia as well.”
Market research in Australia commissioned by Tourism New Zealand at the end of last year showed strong support for the bubble in Australia. About 20 per cent of those who were considering overseas travel had New Zealand as their first preference and intended to travel within six months of the border opening: about 800,000 people.
Overall, 77 per cent of the Australians who were considering visiting New Zealand would come to holiday, while 46 per cent said they wanted to visit family and friends.
There was also high recognition of New Zealand’s handling of Covid-19, with two thirds saying it improved their perception of New Zealand as a holiday destination.
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