As part of the government’s phased reopening, New Zealand has welcomed its first overseas tourists since March 2020. For the first time since the closing of borders and the subsequent installation of some of the world’s harshest anti-pandemic measures, visitors from 60 visa-waiver countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, can finally enter.
The first aircraft from Los Angeles and San Francisco arrived at Auckland airport in emotional scenes, with arrivals being handed popular locally made chocolate bars.
Vaccinated travellers must have a negative Covid test before leaving. They must self-test for coronavirus when they arrive. Unless the government agrees to eliminate the restrictions sooner, non-vaccinated travellers will be free to enter starting in October.
During the pandemic, New Zealand implemented some of the strictest measures in the world. It has begun to reduce the measures’ growing unpopularity in order to encourage tourism and alleviate labour shortages.
New Zealanders and Australians were allowed to cross the border in February and March.
More than 30,000 individuals are expected to come in New Zealand each week, up from the pandemic’s low point (when only domestic arrivals were allowed), but well below pre-Covid levels of around 25,000 people per day.
Tourism contributes significantly to GDP. World Travel Awards voters awarded New Zealand ‘Oceania’s Leading Destination’ and ‘Oceania’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination.’
Stuart Nash, the tourism minister, said the reopening was a step toward the country returning to normal.
He stated, ” “This has been a long time coming – this sends a signal we are now open for business … it is fantastic to see.”
“Today marks a milestone for visitors from our key northern hemisphere markets in the USA, UK, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada and others, who can now jump on a plane to come here. People haven’t seen each other for a long, long time – family and friends. We have also, of course, got international business people [who] are able to reconnect and they are coming back.”