You Beauty! Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble Good News For Wellington
The announcement that a trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia will open on 19 April will usher in the next stage of Wellington’s economic rebound.
Australia is Wellington’s largest international visitor market, accounting for 37 per cent of all international travellers in the year ending December 2019. Over the same period, Australians spent $258 million in the regional economy, including $201 million in Wellington city.
WellingtonNZ Chief Executive John Allen says Wellington businesses have displayed a spine of resilience since the country went into lockdown in March last year.
“It’s been an unsettling time for many businesses, particularly those in the tourism, accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors. They will be breathing a collective sigh of relief over the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble. It is the flickering of an economic light at the end of a very long Covid tunnel.”
Mr Allen says Aussie arrivals to the city will likely rebound in stages with the first wave most likely to be people visiting family and friends.
“People are ready to reconnect face-to-face with friends and whānau after Covid-forced border closures have kept people apart for what has seemed like an eternity. It will be a magical, emotional time.”
Mr Allen says in the year ending December 2019, about 156,000 Australians arrived at Wellington International Airport. Of those, about 80,000 came primarily to visit family and friends (according to their arrival cards) 27,600 for business and 31,000 for a holiday.
“While family and friends may not stay in Wellington’s hotels, they will definitely get out and about, which is good economic news for the city and region. Australian corporate travellers, government officials and those coming for a short holiday are likely to be the next cabs off the rank.”
Wellington is fortunate that it has a major international exhibition exclusive to Australasia – Surrealist Art: Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – opening at Te Papa in June. Running through to October 2021, it features 180 works by Salvador Dalí and artists such as Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington, Man Ray, René Magritte and Marcel Duchamp.
Mr Allen says the exhibition presents a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Australians to revel in Te Papa’s arts and culture world.
“There was initial disappointment when Covid forced Te Papa to postpone the exhibition but its rescheduled 2021 season is well timed to tempt an Aussie audience starved of off-shore, world-class experiences.”
A recent survey by Tourism New Zealand in Australia found 2.3 million Australians were contemplating a trip to New Zealand when the borders reopened. WellingtonNZ is ready to get its share of the pie, soon launching a marketing campaign primarily targeting New South Wales and Victoria.
While there is excitement at the Australian visitor tap finally being turned on again, there is a risk that domestic spending, which has served Wellington so well over the past year, is negatively impacted as Kiwis look to travel across the ditch instead of in New Zealand.
With this in mind, WellingtonNZ will maintain a focus on the domestic visitor market to ensure Wellington and the Wellington region remains front of mind as a vibrant, fun location for locals and Kiwi travellers.