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Quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand begins


Quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand begins

reserve bank of australia
Photo: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

A trans-Tasman two-way travel bubble allowing quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand will begin today.

New Zealanders have been able to fly quarantine-free into most Australian states since October 16, 2020, but today will be the first time Australians can reciprocate to New Zealand. Despite sporadic, minor outbreaks, the spread of COVID-19 has largely been controlled in both countries.

The travel bubble is welcomed by the tourism industries of both countries, which in 2019 earned $2 billion for Australia and $1.4 billion for New Zealand. However, tourist numbers are unlikely to return to pre-COVID-19 levels in the near term. Holiday bookings to New Zealand have slowed since the April 6 travel bubble announcement. For Australia, only 1,800 Kiwis crossed the Tasman in November 2020—the first month of quarantine-free travel to Australia.

Regardless, the bubble will likely boost trans-Tasman business confidence as it provides a template for further quarantine-free travel. Furthermore, proof of vaccination is unnecessary for travel, which, given the slow roll-out of vaccinations in both countries, removes uncertainty. However, given Australians accounted for 40% of visitors to NZ, the bubble will likely be more beneficial to New Zealand’s tourism sector than Australia’s, where Kiwis comprised only 15% of arrivals.

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