Will new COVID-19 outbreak in Australia hit New Zealand’s tourism industry?

Summary

  • With spectacular locales, New Zealand has established itself as a renowned tourism destination across the globe.
  • The sector was severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic as the nation witnessed closure of its borders marked with lockdowns and travel restrictions.
  • With the opening of the trans-Tasman travel bubble, the NZ tourism industry began to mirror the signs of revival.
  • However, with the outbreak of new COVID-19 cases across multiple Australian states, the Wellington Government has adjourned the travel bubble until Tuesday.

Providing the heavenly backdrop for the famous movies ‘The Last Samurai’, ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Mission Impossible 6’, ‘The Hobbit Trilogy’, and many others, New Zealand is truly a heaven on the Earth. Known for its immaculate beauty adorned with pristine locales, gushing waterfalls, clear coasts, gleaming glaciers, and natural wilds; New Zealand is a hit on every globetrotter’s list.

With the marketing campaign of 100% Pure New Zealand, the Kiwi nation is one of the most well-known tourism brands across the globe. Apart from its enchanted alpine beauty, the country’s tourism sector fascinates tourists with its vivid Polynesian culture, adventure sports and world-class cuisines. In fact, tourism is the chief contributor to the nation’s economic affluence.

Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media

During pre-COVID-19 times, tourists from all over the world thronged the Kiwi nation. In fact, tourism was Aotearoa's largest export industry, and in 2020, the total annual tourism expenditure was NZ$41.9 billion, which comprised annual domestic tourism expenditure and annual international tourism expenditure, amounting to NZ$24.4 billion and NZ$17.5 billion, respectively.                         

Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media (Data source: stats.govt.nz)

Now, let us take a quick look at NZ’s tourism numbers in 2020:

  Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media (Data source: stats.govt.nz)

The global tourism industry severely hit by COVID-19

Last year, the deadly coronavirus had inflicted a catastrophe on almost the entire globe. National economies were hit by the pandemic, with all the sectors being adversely affected. But one sector which bore the maximum brunt was the tourism sector. Many countries had sealed their borders, imposed lockdowns and travel restrictions, thus confining people to their homes.

As per reports, in 2020, the tourism industry witnessed a dip of nearly 20% as global earnings from the travel and tourism sector declined from an anticipated US$711.9 billion to US$568.6 billion.

A look at the NZ tourism sector

The story of NZ’s tourism industry is no different. With nationwide lockdowns and restrictions and airlines being grounded, the country’s revenue from the tourism sector is likely to slump by 26.3% in 2020-21 and its GDP is anticipated to be 3%-5% lower than the usual one.

With consequential structural changes imposed by COVID-19, the return to pre-COVID-19 levels may perhaps take years.

Boasting of 3.9 million of overseas tourists in late 2019, the arrivals in NZ plunged to a meagre 1,700 in April 2020.

However, with the opening of the two-way quarantine-free trans-Tasman bubble from 19 April onwards, the sector finally saw a silver lining with 31,931 travellers visiting the Kiwi land in April 2021.

Must Read: Trans-Tasman neighbours witnesses The Travel boom

Trans-Tasman bubble paused with the resurgence of multiple COVID-19 cases across Australia

Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media

Despite the efforts, with the emergence of new variants, COVID-19 cases are resurging and affecting nations.

With multiple outbreaks of a new strain of coronavirus cases in numerous Australian states, Chris Hipkins, NZ’s COVID-19 Response Minister, on 26 June, declared a halt in the quarantine-free trans-Tasman travel arrangement for a period of three days until Tuesday.

Early during the week, leading to the suspension of the NZ travel bubble, Australia had reported a total of 89 cases. However, the number escalated to 127 by Sunday.

It is noted that Sydney entered a lockdown on Saturday, followed by Victoria declaring new travel restrictions from Western Australia and Queensland.

Read: Why Did New Zealand adjourn travel bubble with Victoria?

Hipkins stated that with high levels of transmissibility of the new contagious variant and with the emergence of multiple community clusters across Australia, the NZ Government took a call to pause the travel between the two countries to keep its borders safe from the spread of the disease.

Also Read: Why did NZ cease its travel bubble with NSW?

This would give sufficient time to the New Zealand health authorities to assess the situation across the Tasman and work out plans accordingly.

Meanwhile, a review would be done on Monday.

Travel suspension leads to disappointment among tour operators

Nonetheless, the pause has led to frustration among the tour and hospitality operators who had hoped for a gush of tourists in the winter season. It is noted that the decision to suspend the quarantine-free travel co-incides with the beginning of school holidays in Australia and Aotearoa's ski season.

Julie White, Hospitality NZ’s Chief Executive, expressed that the pause could bring a nightmare to NZ's tourism operators, which had slowly begun to revive since the announcement of the travel bubble in April.

Recommended Read: Will Trans-Tasman bubble give a respite to the NZ economy?

Comment


Disclaimer