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NZ Govt Needs To Urgently Address Australians’ Nervousness To Travel

Veronika Vermeulen, owner of Aroha New Zealand Tours.

A leading tourism entrepreneur says the Government needs to do more to allay Australians’ fears about being locked down or forced into quarantine, believing an unnecessary reluctance to travel to New Zealand is costing local operators.

“The latest lockdown in Perth has created another bout of nervousness for trans-Tasman travel, but it shouldn’t. There are stringent protocols and practices in place, with the chance of Australians getting stuck in New Zealand for prolonged periods very remote. That message now needs to be resourced and put out there before it costs more Kiwi businesses and jobs, says Veronika Vermeulen, owner of Aroha New Zealand Tours.

The travel industry veteran says ongoing worry about outbreak measures is contributing to fewer Australian travelling than what the industry was expecting, but it is still early days.

“Winter will be crunch time and it’s absolutely critical for the likes of Queenstown we maximise inbound numbers. The New Zealand Government needs to urgently educate prospective Australian travellers that the trans-Tasman bubble is working like clockwork and getting locked-down in New Zealand is highly unlikely,” says Ms Vermeulen.

She says Aroha New Zealand Tours is now fielding enquiries from Australia for small-group tours later in the year, with Americans and Europeans also enquiring about 2022. Australians have also shaken off the tendency for their mostly younger citizens to just visit for a long weekend.

“The Australians we are dealing with are older and keener to stay longer than usual with seven to 14-day tours now the most commonplace. They’re also spending more and are particularly keen on the South Island. So far, we’ve seen mostly self-driving Australians, but travel agencies are starting to ask for totally packaged tour products,” she says.

Ms Vermeulen says the luxury side of the travel industry has been hit hard, with the United States and Europe still out of action. While Australians did account for almost half of our international travellers, they’ve traditionally not been a significant player in New Zealand’s luxury market. However, her business has now pivoted to Australia, offering new products with the response encouraging.

She says with many travel and tourism operators just hanging in, the trans-Tasman bubble announcement in early April was an uplifting moment for the industry. However, with the April school holidays now over for all Australian states, it’s time for the Government to issue reassurance.

“We mustn’t let down our guard with Covid-19, but let’s not also forget we are leading the world in best practice and tight management of this trans-Tasman bubble. It’s urgent that our Government now educates and reminds Australians that New Zealand is a very safe bet,” says Veronika Vermeulen.

Veronika Vermeulen is owner of Aroha New Zealand Tours and a travel industry expert. She has been welcoming high-value, luxury foreign travellers to New Zealand for over 20 years.

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