New Zealand is ready to welcome international tourists after more than two years of isolation to deter the spread of Covid-19. The country’s government announced the reopening of the country, months ahead of schedule, as part of efforts to accelerate economic recovery.
1. Reopening borders
While New Zealand is officially reopening borders to international tourists from visa-waiver countries as of 1 May, Australian citizens will enjoy priority access to the country starting on 12 April. Citizens from the UK, Japan, Germany, South Korea, the US and Singapore are among those able to visit New Zealand without a visa.
More than two years shut from the rest of the world, New Zealand’s economy felt the impact of the pandemic, especially its hospitality sector and tourism. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, international tourism contributed almost $11.5 billion to New Zealand’s GDP, while tourism industry employees comprised 8% of the national workforce.
Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop Covid-19, over two years ago, and its reopening will spur our economic recovery throughout the remainder of the year.Jacinta Arden, Prime Minister of New Zealand
Once international travel resumes as before, tourists will have the opportunity to experience the world’s first “winery airline”, recently launched in New Zealand.
2. CDC’s warning
Despite the country’s authorities recognizing that the moment to reopen is appropriate, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently added New Zealand to its highest risk category, Level 4. Based on the CDC methodology, when a location has more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents during the past 28 days, the risk goes up.
New Zealand has been one of the least affected countries when it comes to morbidity and death. The country has recorded only over 100 deaths and confirmed nearly 400,000 Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Most of those cases have appeared since the start of this year amid a wave of the highly transmissible omicron variant.