TORONTO — New Zealand’s tight border controls have proved so effective, the country has had just 17,000 or so COVID-19 cases, and just 53 deaths, in a population of 5 million.
The border controls – along with New Zealand’s enforced quarantine hotel stays for pandemic arrivals – also completely shut down the destination’s thriving tourism industry.
Now after close to two years, New Zealand has announced a phased reopening that could see Canadians welcomed back starting in July 2022.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the five-stage reopening plan today, with doors first opening to returning New Zealanders, coming home via Australia (Step 1, starting Feb. 27) and other parts of the world (Step 2, starting March 13). Step 3 includes visa holders.
Step 4, effective July 2022, reopens the doors to fully vaccinated travellers from visa waiver countries including Canada.
The caveat, of course, is that so far at least there will still be a self-isolation requirement. Not in the quarantine hotels at least, but 10 days of self-isolation. But after such a long closure for the destination, it’s a start. And Step 5, the broadest reopening stage effective October 2022, makes no mention of the self-isolation requirement.
GOWAY’S REIMAGINED TRAVEL PACKAGES TO NZ
We reached out to Goway to get its take on New Zealand’s reopening plan, and what it means for Canadian travellers looking to book trips.
“We are very excited to hear New Zealand has a plan forward to reopening its borders,” Shirley Rourke, Vice President – South Pacific, Goway Travel, tells Travelweek.
“In anticipation of borders opening Goway has reimagined our travel packages to New Zealand and polished its collection of best-selling vacations. Goway has also tapped into emerging travel trends by focusing more on small-group touring, and expanded its private-guided offerings in New Zealand. And let’s not forget our famous self drive itineraries. All can be found on Goway.com,” says Rourke.
More destination information is also available from Tourism New Zealand, which in December 2020 launched a new trade program with 150+ customizable and professionally designed marketing tools, designed to empower travel advisors to convert on sales opportunities. The 100% Pure New Zealand Marketing Hub can be found here.
“WE ARE READY!”
Rourke says Goway is looking forward to that long-awaited pent-up demand from clients wanting to experience New Zealand’s natural beauty, wide open spaces and rich culture: “We are ready!”
Goway’s destination specialists are up to date on entry requirements and COVID protocols which can change very quickly, she adds. “We will ensure we keep agents informed throughout the booking process,” says Rourke.
Rourke also notes that while New Zealand’s current self-isolation period, not just for travellers, is 10 days, if that period drops to 7 days, the self-isolation period for travellers will also change. “Hopefully by July the isolation is either greatly reduced or eliminated,” she says.