New Zealand fast tracks border opening for Australians

New Zealand has fast tracked its border reopening to coincide with Australia's school holidays.

New Zealand will welcome vaccinated Australian visitors earlier than expected with the borders now reopening for tourists on April 13.

It’s been two years since the country closed itself off from the world, but Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said it was time to “welcome the world back”.

“Reopening in time for the upcoming Australian school holidays will help spur our economic recovery in the short term and is good news for the winter ski season,” Ardern said.

“This brings with it huge economic opportunities for us – we will be a sought-after market. We’re now known globally as not just being clean and green, but also being safe, so we know that we’ll be in high demand.”

Australians will still need to take a Covid test prior to departure and take RATs on arrival and day 5 or 6.

Vaccinated visitors from other visa-waiver countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan, Singapore, will be allowed in without the need to isolate from May 2, although that date may also be brought forward.

“We are considering how we might be able to bring forward other visa categories as well,” Arden said.

The announcement was welcomed by Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA), who said it was a confidence boost for the sector.

“This is the message our international customers needed to hear,” said BEIA chief executive Lisa Hopkins.

“We anticipate between 50 to 60 business events with international attendees will now be able to proceed with confidence this year, bringing vital export revenue and cash flow back to the sector.”

But BEIA warned there is still work to be done on couple of critical issues vital to the sector.

“The first is the need for the government to indicate when we can expect a shift in the Covid Protection Framework from Red to Green,” she said.

“We understand that can’t happen right now in the midst of the Omicron peak, but we are keen to ensure this is uppermost in the government’s thinking.

“The second is the process for attendees and visitors to enter the country. This needs to be refined, as currently, it is cumbersome and not fit for purpose.

“We join with other sectors, such as Hospitality New Zealand, to call for the elimination of Vaccine Passes soon. They have done their job brilliantly, but now, with the majority of New Zealanders vaccinated and fully vaccinated travellers only allowed into the country, passes will become redundant.

“The desire to return to face-to-face events is clear, and already we are hearing conversations with future international business customers have begun. The business events sector can now begin its recovery as we start the journey to rebuild, re-hire and re-energise our industry.”