30 Apr 2021

More travellers heading to NZ than Australia in trans-Tasman bubble

7:36 pm on 30 April 2021

The Tourism Industry says 10,000 more people have arrived in New Zealand than departed since the trans-Tasman travel bubble opened.

Auckland Airport welcome back sign.

Auckland Airport's international arrivals lounge on the first day of the travel bubble. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Quarantine-free travel with Australia began last Monday and Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said in the nine days since the bubble opened there were 30,000 arrivals and 20,000 departures.

The arrival numbers were just a fraction of pre-pandemic times - they would normally be five-times that amount at this time of year, Roberts said.

"We're happy to be back at about 20 percent of the normal flow of visitors because it's better than zero percent that we had up until that time."

The first two days were the busiest with 5000 arrivals, he said.

"The people coming into New Zealand has settled back to about two-and-a-half to 3000 people a day and the departures are a bit lower."

As time went on, more holidaymakers coming to New Zealand were expected, he said.

"We'll be watching those figures very closely and no doubt if New Zealanders feel comfortable with travel, an escape from winter up into some Queensland sun will be attractive for some Kiwis but hopefully also the Australians will be very, very keen to get over here for the ski season."

The ratio of more people coming here was one that Tourism Industry Aotearoa would be "delighted to see", Roberts said.

Speaking about the recent breaches of the trans-Tasman bubble, Roberts told Afternoons: "We are incredibly fortunate that we have the trans-Tasman bubble. No other part of the world has this at the moment. It's a dire situation out there globally - 90,000 deaths this week, five million cases this week alone - so we have to take a moment to think of how fortunate we are and we are fortunate that our nearest neighbour Australia is doing as well as us in containing the virus.

"So we have this opportunity to have the trans-Tasman bubble work but it requires everyone to do the right thing and it requires the authorities to get it right. A little glitch like this one in Brisbane is not helpful at all."

It was possible breaches would impact on the will to travel, but there was "pent up demand to travel".

"Not everyone will want to get on a plane to travel but there is certainly a desire and what we saw with the numbers that are out so far for the Tasman is exactly what we expected that it's people visiting friends and family that jump on the plane at the first opportunity.

"That's who've come across to New Zealand and it's good from a New Zealand point of view that we're having more Australians come here rather than New Zealanders go to Australia.

"There is demand from holidaymakers as well... so really strong bookings are coming through... from July onwards."