Reopening to the world

We’re celebrating a big milestone this week – the return of international visitors.

New Zealand is open for business and our tourism destinations are among the world’s best.

Our reputation for hospitality and friendly locals has been enhanced by the way we handled the pandemic. It has reinforced our international image as a nation that cares about people.

Our strong health response, including having the lowest death rate in the OECD over the past two years, is now also an asset. We are a safe place to visit, and New Zealand will be ready with open arms.

In a world still battling COVID-19, travellers will be discerning about where they go. Our high rates of vaccination, alongside our reputation as a beautiful place to visit, will be an asset in overseas markets

As of midnight on Tuesday 12 April, we’ve started welcoming back tourists from Australia. This is just in time for the Australian school holidays and the Easter break, and ahead of the ski season kicking off.

This will advance our economic recovery, and provide a much-needed boost for our tourism and hospitality businesses, as well as communities that rely on international tourism.

Australian visitors will be hugely important during the ski season and we’re excited to welcome them back for a classic Kiwi adventure. Prior to COVID-19, more than 100,000 Australian visitors took a winter holiday in New Zealand each year, and Australians were responsible for around 40% of spending by international tourists during the winter months. Their return will be welcome news for our tourism hotspots.

To further support our tourism sector, we’ve made an exemption to the usual border rules so the ski industry can recruit the highly skilled professionals they need to take advantage of the influx of Australian tourists. These experienced workers will ensure the operational safety of our winter resorts, so that visitors not only have a great time, but are well looked after.

Closing the border was one of the first actions our Government took as pandemic began to spread around the world. This move saved thousands of lives and kept the pressure off our health system, but there’s no question that that the past two years have been tough, particularly for our tourism sector.

The return of Australian visitors is just the first stage of our work to welcome back international tourists. Our world-leading COVID response and our high vaccination rates also make us a really attractive travel destination for overseas visitors from further afield too. New Zealand is in demand, and businesses across the country are already taking bookings from people all over the world, ahead of tourists from visa waiver countries returning on 1 May.

Welcoming back international tourists is the next step in our recovery plan - and the latest figures show this plan is working. Our strong health response means our economy is recovering faster than almost anywhere in the world. Unemployment is at a record low, exports are up, GDP is growing, and debt levels are much lower than the many other countries. This puts us in a solid position as we continue to drive our recovery.

New Zealanders are proud of our hospitality and manaakitanga. We’re excited to welcome tourists back with open arms and show them an exhilarating Kiwi winter break, as we take the next steps in our recovery.

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