New Zealand Invites Tourists Back as Pandemic Rules Are Eased

city shore in the evening sun

New Zealand welcomed Monday tourists from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, and more than 50 other nations for the first time in more than two years, after lifting most of its lingering pandemic border restrictions.

The country is known for its magnificent beauty and adventure tourism – activities like bungee jumping and skiing. More than 3 million travelers visited New Zealand each year prior to COVID-19, accounting for 20% of the country’s foreign income and more than 5% of the entire economy,

International tourism ceased in early 2020 after New Zealand established some of the harshest border controls in the world. The measures remained in place while the government attempted to control the spread of the virus after initially pursuing an extermination campaign. The progressive lifting of restrictions was driven by the spread of Omicron and vaccinations of more than 80% of New Zealand’s 5 million people.

Three weeks ago, New Zealand reopened to tourists from Australia, and on Monday, it reopened to approximately 60 visa-waiver countries, including most of Europe. The majority of tourists from India, China, and other non-waiver nations are still barred from entering the country. Tourists must be vaccinated and tested before and after their arrival in the country.

Tourist flights began arriving at Auckland Airport early in the morning, flying direct from cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. The reopening of the border will help boost tourism ahead of the approaching ski season in New Zealand. The accurate measure of the tourism industry’s recovery will be known in December when the prime summer season in the Southern Hemisphere nation begins.

In the seven weeks since the reopening was announced, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated, that more than 90,000 people had booked flights to New Zealand, with 21 international flights set to land in Auckland just on Monday.