We are delighted to be once again welcoming international tourism and business travellers to Aotearoa New Zealand as the country opens to visitors from around 60 visa-waiver countries.
Many of us, including myself, have been apart from friends and family who live overseas since before the pandemic. I know that reopening our borders to citizens of visa-waiver nations, who can now travel here without isolation if they are vaccinated and do a pre-departure and arrival test for COVID-19, is a much anticipated move.
Taking this step has only been possible because of the hard work of Kiwis over the past two years, and our focus on saving lives and protecting livelihoods.
Our Reconnecting Strategy is about even more than reuniting family and friends, it is also a crucial part of strengthening our economic recovery. We are a safe place to visit, and in a world still battling COVID-19, travellers will be discerning about where they go.
New Zealand’s tourism destinations are amongst the world’s best. I know that businesses here in Canterbury have already welcomed back tourists from Australia with open arms, and the return of international visitors will be a welcome boost for local tourism operators as the industry works to rebuild.
International travel will be very competitive and airlines will take time to build up their schedules and routes. However, this is a big moment in our reconnection with the world and is something to celebrate, as we welcome visitors from our key northern hemisphere markets in the USA, UK, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Canada.
The further phased opening up of New Zealand’s borders to visa waiver countries builds on earlier steps to welcome back overseas travellers. This adds to our re-opening plans which mean up to 5,000 international students are able to come to here for the second semester of the academic year. We have also accepted over 6,000 applications in just a few weeks from young people seeking Working Holiday Visas. They will not only have a great time on holiday here but can work to support our tourism, hospitality and horticultural sectors.
The Government is also continuing to review New Zealand’s Reconnecting Strategy to see if and when it might be possible to bring forward the final steps of the Reconnecting plan sooner than previously signalled.
As we reconnect with the world, we will continue to make the most of New Zealand’s economic head start and back our businesses to thrive. I hope you all will join me in giving a big friendly Kiwi welcome to our international visitors.
Sarah Pallett MP
NZ Labour party