Update - When will New Zealand & Australia be reopen to international travelers.

One of our most asked question is "When will New Zealand start welcoming overseas visitors again?". Unfortunately there's no clear cut answer. In this blog, we've copied parts of a travel industry communication that we received this morning. It's from a leading and highly respected Australia & New Zealand tour operator and makes interesting reading. Do we agree with them? Read our comments below.

Let's take a look at what they say about Australia first.

AUSTRALIA
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"Following last night's annual budget announcement we would like to give you another update on the timing for the international border opening. 

The presumption for the budget is that international borders are likely to remain closed until the middle of next year. This is based on the slow vaccination uptake by the Australian public and the dire situation in the rest of the world especially India in recent times. 

The key points for a possible border opening are the vaccination of at least 70% of the population and a drastically improved virus control in the rest of the world. 

We are still hopeful for an earlier border opening, however at the moment we can only go by the latest information we are getting from the Australian government".

NEW ZEALAND 
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"Unfortunately there are no clear statements from the New Zealand government about when their borders will be reopened for international visitors. 

The New Zealand Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins says it is 'unlikely' to see international travel ramp up in 2021 and early 2022."   

OUR COMMENTS 

Because of Australia's closer proximity to India, the Australian government will be greatly influenced by how the situation there and in Asia plays out over the next few weeks or months. 

Before the situation in India deteriorated, the Australian national carrier QANTAS had announced that they planned to start flying internationally by the end of October 2021. We think this now highly unlikely.

Of the two countries, New Zealand has been much more conservative in their approach to Covid-19, with New Zealand having been in continuous lockdown since April 10, 2020. We believe their cautious approach will continue.

Another issue yet to be resolved is the production of internationally recognized Covid-19 vaccination passports that travelers can carry with them. A tremendous amount of work is going into how this can be best achieved. However we don't expect a final answer to be announced in the short term or production of any agreed vaccination "passport" to start for several months.

CONCLUSION

This morning's announcement by the Australian government might sound a little pessimistic, but unfortunately what they describe, international borders remaining closed until mid-2022, might be the case.

Based on this communication and what we're hearing from our government and travel industry contacts, our opinion is that travel to New Zealand from the USA will not be starting again until April next year at the earliest.

In the meantime we continue to work with our customers, creating suggested itineraries and preparing for the day that they can become realities.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • May 17, 2021