A draft blueprint into how safe trans-Tasman travel could start is to be presented to the New Zealand and Australian Governments in early June.
The plan is being put together by a team industry and government experts from both countries called the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group, which is being coordinated by the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum.
“New Zealand and Australia have worked really hard to get where they are in containing the spread of Covid-19 and both of our countries have been successful to date,” said Scott Tasker, co-chair of the Border Group and Auckland Airport’s general manager aeronautical commercial.
“New Zealanders and Australians are some of the most frequent travellers in the world and we are very fortunate to now be in a position where our governments can even contemplate the safe re-opening of the trans-Tasman border, for the benefit of our communities and economies.”
The Border Group, which is comprised of 11 government agencies, 6 airports, and 2 airlines, was expected to complete its work in early June and present its findings to the New Zealand and Australian Governments.
It would also recommend how the trans-Tasman border experience could be used to model and test processes that could be applied to other countries to allow further lifting of border restrictions.
“Our aim is to put forward a detailed set of recommendations that safely manage any health risks, while also allowing Kiwis and Australians to travel to each country without the need for a 14-day quarantine,” said Tasker.
Margy Osmond, co-chair of the Border Group and chief executive of Australia’s Tourism and Transport Forum, said the task force was considering options such as a safe travel zone, including eligibility for travel, the management of traveller flows, capacity and distancing, enhanced cleaning, and education campaigns.
“It’s critically important that people can have confidence in the safety of a trans-Tasman safe travel zone, and we are poring over every detail and aspect of the customer journey to find a safe and practical way forward, for the review and consideration of our respective governments,” said Osmond.
“We have an opportunity now to work together to show how we can support tourism on both sides of the Tasman and do it safely.”
Tourism Industry Aotearoa welcomed the progress being made on opening trans-Tasman travel.
“TIA has had representation on one of the work streams leading this project, and a very robust proposal is being brought together,” said TIA chief executive Chris Roberts.
“Officials and ministers will need to respond quickly, as every day matters for businesses who need access to customers, and for family and friends wanting to connect.”
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, 1.5 million Australians visited New Zealand in 2019, making up 40% of all foreign visitors. Australia was the most popular outbound travel destination for Kiwis with 1.4 million visiting that country last year.
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