0

New Zealand welcomes back tourists as pandemic rules ease

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand welcomed tourists from the United States, Canada, Britain, Japan and more than 50 other countries on Monday for the first time in more than two years after lifting most of its border restrictions due to the pandemic. .

The country has long been recognized for its stunning scenery and adventure tourism offerings such as bungee jumping and skiing. Before the spread of COVID-19, more than 3 million tourists visited each year, accounting for 20% of New Zealand’s foreign income and more than 5% of the overall economy.

But international tourism came to a complete halt in early 2020 after New Zealand imposed some of the world’s toughest border restrictions.

Border rules remained in place as the government first pursued a phase-out strategy and then sought to strictly control the spread of the virus. The spread of omicron and vaccinations for more than 80% of New Zealand’s 5 million people prompted the gradual relaxation of restrictions.

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

Pandemic border restrictions.

The country has long been recognized for its stunning scenery and adventure tourism offerings such as bungee jumping and skiing. Before the spread of COVID-19, more than 3 million tourists visited each year, accounting for 20% of New Zealand’s foreign income and more than 5% of the overall economy.

But international tourism came to a complete halt in early 2020 after New Zealand imposed some of the world’s toughest border restrictions.

Border rules remained in place as the government first pursued a phase-out strategy and then sought to strictly control the spread of the virus. The spread of omicron and vaccinations for more than 80% of New Zealand’s 5 million people prompted the gradual relaxation of restrictions.

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

Pandemic border restrictions.

The country has long been recognized for its stunning scenery and adventure tourism offerings such as bungee jumping and skiing. Before the spread of COVID-19, more than 3 million tourists visited each year, accounting for 20% of New Zealand’s foreign income and more than 5% of the overall economy.

But international tourism came to a complete halt in early 2020 after New Zealand imposed some of the world’s toughest border restrictions.

Border rules remained in place as the government first pursued a phase-out strategy and then sought to strictly control the spread of the virus. The spread of omicron and vaccinations for more than 80% of New Zealand’s 5 million people prompted the gradual relaxation of restrictions.

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

New Zealand welcomed tourists from the US, Canada, Britain, Japan and more than 50 countries for the first time in more than two years as it lifted most of its remaining pandemic border restrictions.
New Zealand welcomed tourists from the US, Canada, Britain, Japan and more than 50 countries for the first time in more than two years as it lifted most of its remaining pandemic border restrictions.

Jed Bradley/New Zealand Herald via AP

Tourists must be vaccinated and tested for the virus before and after arrival.

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

At Auckland airport, flights bringing tourists began landing early in the morning, arriving directly from places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

The reopening of the border will help boost tourism ahead of New Zealand’s upcoming ski season. But the real test of how much the tourism industry is recovering will come in December, when the southern hemisphere nation’s peak summer season kicks off.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more than 90,000 people had booked flights to New Zealand in the seven weeks since the reopening was announced and 21 international flights were scheduled to land in Auckland on Monday.

“Our tourism industry has felt the effects of the global pandemic acutely and is working hard to prepare,” he said.

Ardern said there were no immediate plans to ease virus testing and vaccination requirements for tourists.