12 Mar 2020

Tourism industry urges govt to lift China travel ban

From Checkpoint, 5:21 pm on 12 March 2020

US President Donald Trump has announced a 30-day ban on travel from Europe to the United States.

The news has rocked markets, with Auckland Airport calling a trading halt on Thursday afternoon.

It is yet another hit to New Zealand's tourism sector, Tourism Industry Association chief executive Chris Roberts told Checkpoint.

"We're getting these blows happening almost on an hourly basis it feels at the moment," he said.

"It just adds to an ever-changing picture, and it certainly will further dampen global travel, and New Zealand will feel some of the fallout from that."

"We were expecting international visitors to spend $18b in New Zealand this year.

"Looking at some... mid-range scenarios, no the worst-case, looking at what we've actually already seen spent... If we're still grappling with this issue as we go through the year, we could quite easily see a $7 billion hit."

The government so far has announced a tourism aid package of $11 million.

Roberts said it will be a significant blow to the whole economy if that is the outcome. The estimation is based on keeping at least half of the expected visitors, he said.

"We're calling for the government to now lift the travel ban on China and just change it to a ban on Hubei province.

"There is no real justification anymore to have the travel ban. If we were to lift that, it's a really strong signal to China. It would allow the airlines to schedule flights, get freight moving into China again, and get passengers moving into China again."