Tourism grows as flights and hotel bookings increase before borders open

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We always knew that the Kiwis loved us, deep inside us. But rarely will a corner of New Zealand be as relieved to welcome Australians as Queenstown where, within 90 minutes of the full announcement of the Trans-Tasman Bubble, the phones at the Rees Hotel were crackling with Australian drawlings. .

As of April 6, the resort-style luxury hotel on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by mountains, has taken more than 100 nights of reservations from Australia, traditionally the hotel’s largest market, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Such interest is also reflected in traffic to the flight booking site skyscanner.com.au, which reports that visits have increased by almost 70% at the time of the announcement. And the happiness of the bubbles does not stop there.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) confirms that more Australians are applying for passports since the announcement of non-quarantine travel arrangements with New Zealand.

With passports virtually unusable for most people over the past year, DFAT is reminding Australians planning to travel to New Zealand to check if theirs are still up to date before booking.

For Mark Rose, Managing Director of The Rees, the return of Australians to Queenstown, one of the hardest hit on New Zealand’s international tourist maps during the pandemic, is a great relief.

“The opening of a travel bubble with Australia is great news for both countries and in particular for Queenstown where we have been welcoming Australians on direct flights since 2005,” he said.

“It has been a difficult year for many tourist cities in New Zealand, including Queenstown where we have always relied heavily on international tourists, especially Australians.”

Despite a promising start, Mr Rose says the real effect of the bubble, if it swells without incident, will be felt in Queenstown from mid-June. That’s when the winter school holidays begin with the South Island’s taller and longer ski slopes presenting an irresistible attraction for Australian skiers.

In downtown Auckland, Andy Davies, owner of The Convent, a 22-room boutique hotel, has not welcomed foreign tourists since the converted convent opened last November. But he will do so from Monday when the first Australians check in. (The first scheduled bubble flight to New Zealand is the Jetstar JQ201, which departs at 6:15 am from Sydney.)

“Tourism is huge for us as a country,” he says. “Since the bubble was announced we are at 100% occupied. It’s really good for Auckland, but my first thought when the news of the bubble came in was, ‘Okay, we have to go to Sydney. “

A Skyscanner spokesperson said that with the site’s data showing an average of 1.6 passengers per booking, it expects friends and families to look forward to the long-awaited reunion with most of the passengers. bookings at all four entry points – Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown – at this point, being for individuals and groups of two partners or friends.

To mark the arrival of the first non-quarantined bubble flight from Australia to the South Island – Qantas QF121 from Sydney at 2:30 p.m. – Destination Queenstown, the local tourism organization, plans to offer a special Kiwi welcome to passengers with the chance to win prizes.

Initially, Queenstown Airport expects around 20 international flights per week from Australia with direct scheduled services operated by Air New Zealand and Qantas between Queenstown and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

On the North Island in Wellington, Anna Calver, chief executive of the city’s WellingtonNZ tourism organization, said the nation’s main air connectivity was with Australia and Australians were by far the largest international visitor market before the pandemic.

“We expect the first wave of travelers to be Kiwis and Australians visiting friends and family,” she says, “but we are also seeing a decent amount of business travel with many hotels. locals reporting many midweek bookings from Australia. “

“Although Australia is Wellington’s largest visitor market, with around 250,000 Australians visiting the region each year before COVID, we know that many Australians have never visited what is known as the small capital la coolest in the world. “

See also: “Unforeseen consequence”: travel bubble leaves Kiwis stranded abroad

See also: Five Lessons You Need To Learn About New Zealand

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