Australia-New Zealand travel bubble ‘likely to go ahead before Christmas’

Sep 29, 2020
New Zealanders could see themselves holidaying in Australia as early as November this year. Source: Getty.

A travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand could be up and running before Christmas, a plan by the federal government and tourism groups to restart Australia’s ailing travel industry has revealed.

The tourism task force made up of representatives from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Tourism Australia, Flight Centre and other industry leaders has outlined its timeline to reopen parts of Australia.

The plan, obtained by The Australian, calls for all state borders to reopen by December 1. However Victoria’s borders will most likely not reopen until January or February next year. The plan also hopes people who live across the Tasman will be allowed to travel to Australia without any restrictions by November. Meanwhile, it’s expected that Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand without quarantining in a hotel by January or February.

According to the publication, the tourism task force also wants hotel quarantine caps to be removed by March 1. It also reckons domestic cruises for 300 people or less should be safe to start up again in November before moving on to bigger ships and taking in New Zealand and the Pacific.

ACCI tourism head John Hart told The Australian that he hopes the proposed plan will encourage New Zealand to follow suit.

“Whether they are New Zealanders or repatriated Australians doesn’t matter. It’s about having a quarantine-free entry into Australia,” Hart told the publication.

“We hope then the response will be New Zealand says ‘we’re happy for it to happen the other way as well’, acknowledging it’s probably going to start with the South Island rather than the North Island given they’ve still got active cases in the north.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told Nine’s Today show on Monday that a travel bubble between New Zealand and some of Australia’s states could be in place before Christmas, adding: “I think it’s capable of happening much, much sooner than that”.

“We have never given up hope on the bubble plan,” Peters told the morning show. “We are raring to go and the sooner to get going the better. We have worked on it very staunchly for a long time and the real issue is whether or not we can ensure that the protocols work for both countries.”

According to the ABC, Peters said Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales were the states being considered, but nothing has been confirmed just yet.

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