After lifting most of its lingering pandemic border restrictions, New Zealand welcomed visitors from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, and more than 50 other nations for the first time in more than two years on Monday.
The nation is known for its magnificent beauty and adventure tourist activities like bungee jumping and skiing. More over 3 million visitors visited New Zealand each year prior to the spread of COVID-19, accounting for 20% of the country’s foreign income and more than 5% of the entire economy.
However, international tourism ceased in early 2020 after New Zealand established some of the world’s most stringent border controls.
The border controls remained in place while the government attempted to contain the spread of the virus after initially pursuing an extermination campaign. The progressive lifting of restrictions was driven by the spread of omicron and vaccinations of more than 80% of New Zealand’s 5 million people.
Three weeks ago, New Zealand reopened to visitors from Australia, and on Monday, it reopened to approximately 60 visa-waiver nations, including most of Europe. The majority of visitors from India, China, and other non-waiver nations are still barred from entering the country.
Tourists must be inoculated and tested for the virus both before and after their arrival.
“Today is a day to rejoice, and it marks a significant step forward in our connectivity with the rest of the globe,” Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said.
Tourist planes began arriving at Auckland Airport early in the morning, flying direct from cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.
The reopening of the border will help promote tourism ahead of the approaching ski season in New Zealand. The true measure of the tourist industry’s recovery will be in December, when the prime summer season in the Southern Hemisphere nation begins.
In the seven weeks since the reopening was announced, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more than 90,000 people had booked tickets to New Zealand, with 21 foreign planes set to land in Auckland on Monday.
“The repercussions of the worldwide epidemic have been felt severely by our tourism business, and we are working hard to prepare,” she added.
There are no urgent plans to alter virus testing and vaccine restrictions for tourists, according to Ardern.