Travel

New Zealand welcomes back tourists as borders reopen to more than 50 countries

Written by The Frontier Post

WELLINGTON: New Zealand welcomed tourists from the US, Canada, Britain, Japan and more than 50 other countries for the first time in more than two years on Monday after dropping most of its remaining Covid-19 pandemic border restrictions.

The country has long been renowned for its breathtaking scenery and adventure tourism offerings such as bungee jumping and skiing. Before the spread of Covid-19, more than three million tourists visited each year, accounting for 20 per cent of New Zealand’s foreign income and more than 5 per cent of the overall economy.

But international tourism stopped altogether in early 2020 after New Zealand imposed some of the world’s toughest border restrictions.

The border rules remained in place as the government at first pursued an elimination strategy and then tried to tightly control the spread of the virus. A drop in Omicron numbers and vaccinations of more than 80 per cent of New Zealand’s five-million population prompted the gradual easing of restrictions.

New Zealand reopened to tourists from Australia three weeks ago and on Monday to about 60 visa-waiver countries, including much of Europe. Most tourists from India, China and other non-waiver countries are still not allowed to enter.

Tourists will need to be vaccinated and to test themselves for the virus after arriving.

“Today is a day to celebrate, and is a big moment in our reconnection with the world,” said Tourism Minister, Stuart Nash.

At Auckland Airport, flights bringing in tourists began landing from early in the morning, coming in direct from places including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

The border reopening will help to boost tourism before New Zealand’s forthcoming ski season. But the real test of how much the tourism industry rebounds will come in December, when the peak summer season begins in the Southern Hemisphere nation.

Courtesy: thenationalnews

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