- The execution of the travel bubble is expected to deliver a significant economic boost to both Australia and New Zealand.
- The success of the trans-Tasman travel bubble may pave the way for the launch of other travel bubbles with the country.
- The hotel and hospitality industry and the rental markets are expected to reap the rewards of the travel bubble.
Temporary pauses in the trans-Tasman travel bubble have emerged as fresh subjects of concern for the pandemic-hit tourism industry. However, a mid to long-term view on the operation of the travel bubble advocates a return of the country’s tourism industry to pre-COVID levels sooner than the rest of the world.
A wave of cheers swept the crowd as New Zealand opened its doors to quarantine-free travel from Australia on 19 April 2021. The launch of the long-awaited travel bubble provided the country with a glimpse of post-pandemic international travel.
Certainly, post-pandemic travel will not be a smooth sail for both countries. The recently introduced halt on flights from Western Australia following new coronavirus cases in Perth testifies the same. However, the bright side is that both New Zealand and Australia have already planned for such a scenario and are prepared to deal with temporary pauses. This is evident from the swift resumption of flights to WA following a short cessation.
Beacon of Hope for Tourism Industry
The execution of the travel bubble has not only offered some semblance of normalcy but has also emerged as a bright ray of hope for the battered tourism industry. Considering the reliance that Australia and New Zealand place on one another for travel visits and expenditure, the trans-Tasman travel bubble is no less than a knight in shining armour for the ailing tourism sector.
As per Tourism New Zealand, Australia was the largest international visitor market of the nation prior to COVID-19. Australians accounted for almost half of all overseas visitor arrivals, spending NZ$2.7 billion in 2019. With Australia being the nation’s largest inbound tourism market, the travel bubble is much likely to deliver a substantial push to the hammered tourism and hospitality industries.
Tourism New Zealand earlier anticipated a billion-dollar economic boost from the bubble, which seems to be heading towards reality. Notably, the nation welcomed over 30,000 overseas travels in just the first nine days of the travel bubble, as per the latest statistics from Stats NZ.
The travel bubble is expected to deliver sizeable economic benefits to both countries, given high levels of pent-up demand prevailing between these trading partners.
Setting the Stage for Other Travel Bubbles
The effective implementation of the trans-Tasman travel bubble may pave the way for more travel bubbles, delivering a significant boost to international travel. Interestingly, Singapore has already been singled out as the next possible destination for the travel bubble.
Singapore recently grabbed the top spot in the latest COVID resilience ranking released by Bloomberg, becoming the best place to be during the pandemic. Singapore is expected to extend its recently announced Hong Kong travel bubble to New Zealand. However, we may have to wait for few more days before this bubble becomes a reality.
At present, the government intends to bring its two-way quarantine free travel with the Cook Islands and Niue in working order soon. It seems that New Zealand will materialise the travel bubble with only those countries that follow a similar zero-risk approach to enable travel in and out of their territory.
Potential Benefits to Diverse Sectors
The reopening of overseas borders with Australia is anticipated to revive the hotel and hospitality industry that has been struggling to make ends meet amid the pandemic restrictions.
While COVID-19 derailed the hotel industry with massive job losses and widespread business closures, the resumption of the trans-Tasman travel bubble has rekindled its hopes of a revival. Putting the pedal to the metal, Scenic Hotel Group recently reversed its decision to put a West Coast hotel into hibernation to welcome inbound visitors from Australia.
Besides, the execution of the travel bubble seems to be a starting point for a return to normalcy in the rental markets, which have been bearing the brunt of subdued migration. The country’s rental markets encountered a substantial spike in vacancy rates amid border closures and a fall in demand for student accommodation.
On the flip side, increased migration from the resumption of the travel bubble can fuel the country’s red-hot property market, potentially landing housing prices into the bubble territory. Besides, the government may face a dilemma in case Australia opens its borders to other nations, posing a threat to the operation of the trans-Tasman travel bubble.
All in all, only time will reveal if the perceived benefits of the trans-Tasman travel bubble outweigh the associated risks. The travelers’ confidence will be an important parameter to keep an eye on.