New Zealand brings forward border reopening for international tourists

Plans by New Zealand to reopen its borders to international travellers have been brought forward after more than two years of strict Covid curbs.

Australians will be allowed to enter the country without needing to quarantine or isolate from April 13.

Fully vaccinated travellers from about 60 countries on a visa-waiver list, including the UK, will be able to visit from May 2 instead of July as previously planned.

All international inbound travellers to New Zealand will have to show a negative pre-departure Covid test.

New Zealand shut its borders in March 2020 as the pandemic spread.

They have remained closed, except for a short-lived travel bubble with Australia.

Only New Zealand citizens are currently allowed in and out.

However, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand was now “ready to welcome the world back”.

 “We have now received guidance that it is safe to significantly bring forward the next stage of border reopening work, bringing back our tourists,” she said.

 People who already have a visa – but are from outside the visa waiver list – will be also eligible to enter the country on May 2.

A New Zealand government statement said: “Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop Covid-19 two years ago. It did the job we needed. But now that we are highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it is now safe to open up.

“Reopening in time for the upcoming Australian school holidays will help spur our economic recovery in the short term and is good news for the winter ski season.

“Trans-Tasman travellers have historically made up 40% of our international arrivals, with around 1.5 million Australians visiting each year.

“While we know it will take some time to see tourism scale up again, today’s announcement will be a welcome boost for our tourism operators who have done it harder than many over the last two years.

“New Zealand is a country which is able to provide a safe place for tourists to return to due to our strong health response to Covid-19.

“An earlier reopening for tourism, and the air travel that brings, also increases capacity for our exports, helping to lower freight rates and the flow-on costs of goods that stems from that.

“We know that traveller numbers will be below pre-Covid levels for awhile and tourism globally will take time to rebound, but today’s announcement means we are ready to go, so welcome back.”

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