New Zealand tourism losing billions until quarantine free travel returns

New Zealand’s tourism sector has a long road to recovery with the latest forecast suggesting it is at least two years away from reaching any normality.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) has released a recovery roadmap which projects the nation’s tourism sector will not see return to a “new normal” until 2024.

“Even if operators disagree or will make up their own minds, this roadmap work will form a basis for their own business planning,” said TIA chief executive Chris Roberts.

“Not many government or private sector analysts are covering tourism so this information may also be used to ensure better consideration of tourism across a wide range of processes.”

New Zealand is currently closed to international visitors until April 2022, but even then visitors will still have to quarantine for 14 days albeit stifling any international tourism opportunities.

Roberts said the achieving quarantine-free travel is essential for the industry but “will be a step-by-step process”.

According to Tourism Industry Aotearoa, border restrictions imposed when the pandemic hit in early 2020 have cost the nation NZ$26 billion in earnings from international visitors, with a NZ$16 billion potential additional loss in foreign exchange earnings if there are delays to the removal of border restrictions.

“The analysis suggests a further $23 billion loss in the next three years, but this could balloon to $39 billion if our reconnection to the world is delayed,” Roberts said.

Looking further ahead, availability, the cost of air travel and increased international competition from other visitor destinations are expected to be the main challenges from 2023.

“We are certainly not taking these projections as set in concrete,” Roberts said.

“TIA will continue to advocate strongly to government to achieve the best possible outcomes for our industry, which was the first to be hit by the pandemic and will be the last to recover.”