Travel agents on both sides of the Tasman are awaiting greater clarity on tweaks to travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand.
Australia has finalised a deal for a limited travel bubble—launching 16 October—that will allow people from New Zealand to travel to Australia's New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
However, Australians will not be able to travel in the opposite direction—at least for now—and New Zealanders may have to spend time in hotel quarantine at their own expense when returning to New Zealand from Australia.
"I want New Zealanders to keep in mind that even if Australia may open up borders one-way so Kiwis can go there without quarantine, it does not mean that they won't have to go into quarantine on return. At this stage, they will,” says New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
Qantas says the easing of trans-Tasman restrictions is “the best news the industry has had in months” and plans to respond to the development by opening flights on the Sydney-Auckland and Sydney-Christchurch routes.
Flight Centre chief Graham Turner wants “bubbles” to be further extended with a colour-coded traffic light system for international travel. He said alongside New Zealand and Singapore, locations such as Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea could be on the list for international travel.
Most travel agents’ attention is on Australia’s federal budget today (6 October) when the travel sellers will be looking to the government to provide help to keep them in business after months of pandemic pain.
Darren Rudd, CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, has been lobbying hard for government support and hopes that its members’ voices, “delivered with passion, pain and commitment”, will be heard in Canberra this week.