New Zealand Ready to Welcome Tourists Back from May

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday that her country is “ready to welcome the world back,” with most tourists expected to be able to return by May as the country’s coronavirus restrictions are eased.

The announcement pushed the date for tourists from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe to visit from the originally stated October date.

International tourism used to account for over 20% of New Zealand’s foreign revenue and more than 5% of GDP.

When the epidemic hit, New Zealand established some of the tightest border controls in the world, and travel dried up. Thousands of lives were saved as a result of the efforts, which also helped New Zealand to terminate or contain many epidemics.

However, as the omicron variety spreads across the country, border constraints are becoming increasingly meaningless. The measure, according to Ardern, will help the economy.

“One of the first acts we did to stop Covid-19 over two years ago was to close our border, and its reopening will boost our economic recovery for the rest of the year,” she said. Visitors from Australia will be able to visit starting April 12 while tourists from other visa-waiver nations will be able to come starting May 1. Unless they already have valid visiting visas, tourists from non-waiver nations, such as India and China, may have to wait longer.

Before leaving their home country and again after arriving in New Zealand, tourists must be vaccinated and tested negative for the virus.

“I know how difficult these last two years have been from visiting tourism operators and talking to their staff,” Ardern added. “Not simply because of the significant loss of tourism earnings, but also because we lost something from which we derived so much of our identity.”

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