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Travel reforms to bring Australia closer

Travel reforms to bring Australia closer

New Zealand’s tourism industry is supporting a package of proposed reforms designed to make trans-Tasman travel even easier.

The proposals to maximise travel across the Tasman have been announced today by Australia’s Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).

New Zealand and Australia provide the largest single source of visitors for each country. More than 1.2 million Aussies crossed the ditch in the year to June 2014 while just over 1 million Kiwis visited Australia.

“The implementation of the TTF reforms would unlock further growth from Australia by making travel across the Tasman even easier and more affordable,” says Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) Chief Executive Chris Roberts.

The current bilateral arrangements between Australia and New Zealand lag behind border agreements elsewhere in the world, like those for the 26 countries within Europe’s Schengen zone, between the USA and Canada, and between the UK and Ireland, Mr Roberts says.

The four proposed reforms are:

1. A domestic-like travel experience at international airports in Australia and New Zealand through the streamlining of border formalities on exit and entry.

2. Cutting the Australian Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) to AUD$25 (currently AUD$55) to encourage more travel between both countries.

3. Opening additional points of entry at secondary airports in Australia to encourage more travel.

4. Developing common visitor visas to encourage more international visitors to combine both countries in one trip.

These reforms are consistent with objectives of New Zealand’s Tourism 2025 growth framework. They link strongly to both the visitor experience and air connectivity themes of the framework, Mr Roberts says.

“Identifying and eliminating or mitigating facilitation barriers are a key to improving the visitor experience at the border while driving more value from the Australian market. And a common visa, like the temporary one in place for the 2015 Cricket World Cup, is a catalyst to encourage visitors from visa required countries like India and China to include Australia and New Zealand on the same itinerary,” he says.

Growing sustainable air connectivity was identified as critical to achieving the Tourism 2025 goal of almost doubling annual tourism revenue to $41 billion by 2025. With close to one million seats going empty each year on trans-Tasman flights, initiatives like these would be a real fillip for capacity on the routes, he says.

“TIA has supported the work of our Australian counterpart TTF and we will be advocating strongly to New Zealand authorities to progress these reforms,” Mr Roberts says.

“Like TTF, we think that the 2015 Anzac Centenary represents a real opportunity to move on the reforms and cement the Closer Economic Relationship that has been in place between our two countries for more than 30 years.”

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