New Zealand Reopens to Tourism From 60 Countries

Skift grip

We know we are on the road to recovery when New Zealand opens its borders.

Jason Clampet

New Zealand welcomed thousands of travelers from around the world on Monday as the country opened its borders to visitors from around 60 countries, including the United States, Britain and Singapore for the first time since COVID-19 hit in early 2020.

Maori artists sang songs at the arrivals gate in Auckland and travelers received popular locally made chocolate bars when the first flights arrived from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Friends and family hugged and cried as people came together for what was for some the first time in more than two years.

Garth Halliday, who was waiting at the airport for his son, daughter-in-law and grandson to land from London, told local media it made him happy and emotional to see so many families reunited.

New Zealand had some of the toughest restrictions in the world during the pandemic and only recently began easing unpopular measures, hoping to boost tourism and ease labor shortages now that the Omicron variant is widespread in the country.

The borders were opened to New Zealanders and Australians in February and March. Now visitors from around 60 visa-exempt countries can enter as long as they are vaccinated and test negative for COVID. There is no requirement for isolation.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told attendees of the American Business Summit in Auckland that foreign visitors will “really bring back a piece that New Zealand and New Zealanders have been missing.”

On Monday, 43 international flights were due to arrive or depart from Auckland International Airport carrying around 9,000 passengers.

Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand’s chief customer and sales officer, said she exceeded expectations with many services fulfilled.

“This is good news for New Zealand’s tourism industry which has weathered a difficult storm,” she said.

Tourists from a number of countries, including India and China, continue to be banned, with restrictions on them only lifted in October.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

This article was written by Lucy Craymer of Reuters and has been legally licensed through Industry Dive Content market. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].