Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Tourism in a trans-Tasman bubble – Expert Reaction

Expert Reactions | Published: 07 May 2020

The Prime Minister’s commitment to a “COVID-safe Travel Zone” between Australia and New Zealand could give our tourism industry a key opportunity to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

However, epidemiologists have warned that testing and contact tracing abilities in both countries need to be up to scratch before such a move can be safely taken.

The SMC asked experts to comment on how a trans-Tasman bubble would affect New Zealand’s tourism industry.


Dr Julia Albrecht, Department of Tourism, University of Otago, comments:

“The possibility of a trans-Tasman bubble was first broached several weeks ago, and yesterday’s conversations between Australian and New Zealand government leaders indicate that it may become a reality in the foreseeable future.

“Merging the Australian and New Zealand bubbles sparks hope in New Zealand tourism operators whose market would increase six-fold. It may be the much needed lifeline for many New Zealand tourism businesses. We cannot reasonably expect the return of international tourism in 2020, and opening up to a market of an additional 25 million may make a crucial difference for an industry that currently anticipates job losses of 50%.

“In order to avoid the significant risk that a trans-Tasman bubble poses, we need to get two things right. First, we need to allow, or better still encourage, domestic travel as early as under Alert Level 2. Operating domestically provides an excellent window of opportunity to test products that were adapted to suit physical distancing protocols as well as revised operational procedures in a comparatively safe setting. Second, as the tourism industry simply cannot afford another period under Alert Level 4, we need to be certain that both countries sustain their efforts in eliminating COVID-19 within their borders.”

No conflict of interest.


Professor C. Michael Hall, Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, University of Canterbury, comments:

“The notion of a trans-Tasman bubble that is currently being promoted by the Australian and New Zealand tourism industries as well as some politicians is one of the most logical and appropriate ways to restart tourism in the two countries.

“Together with encouraging domestic travel, the fact that Australia and New Zealand represent major markets for the other country and that there is already a clear regulatory structure for travel between the countries make “the bubble” something of a no-brainer when it comes to tourism policy.

“The relatively similar health systems and COVID-19 management strategies also provide a clear pathway for agreeing any new health and biosecurity requirements for trans-Tasman travel. For example, possibly changing the customs form to reflect COVID-19 or requiring use of an app for tracing.

“Once COVID-19 has reached the equivalent of Level 2 in both countries, there will be a firm basis to encourage much higher levels of trans-Tasman travel.

“Importantly, it will not just be the ski and city tourism holiday markets that will be a focus but also encouraging Visiting Friends and Relations (VFR) travel. This market tends to be less risk averse and should be a major domestic and international marketing focus for regional tourism organisations so as to get tourism underway.

“The high degree of familiarity of trans-Tasman tourists to each other’s countries also helps provide a sense of security that will encourage travel.

“The notion of a “bubble” builds upon the already close travel ties between the countries and it is interesting to see that there are already proposals for the resumption of trans-Tasman routes, such as Christchurch-Hobart, that were abandoned in the 1990s. Such direct routes can also help better manage travel risks arising from renewed outbreaks of the coronavirus. Once travel resumes, other direct flight markets between New Zealand and the various Australian states will also have potential for development.

“As well as immediate economic benefits, the bubble will also potentially have long-term benefits to position New Zealand and Australia as safe destinations, which will be critical in the post-COVID-19 environment.

“The eventual expansion of the bubble to some of the South Pacific countries that are COVID-19 free will also help provide much needed economic help to those countries, as well as potentially enabling the resumption of some of the short-term labour schemes that Australia and New Zealand’s horticultural sectors rely upon.”

No conflict of interest.


Associate Professor Hongzhi Gao, Victoria University of Wellington and Associate Professor Monica Ren, Macquarie University, comment:

Note: these comments are excerpted from The Conversation.

“Understandably, discussions about creating a “trans-Tasman bubble” between Australia and New Zealand have focused on kick-starting economic activity in the short term, particularly through tourism. But both countries also need to take a longer-term view of boosting economic activity – including through increased manufacturing and trade integration.

“The COVID-19 crisis has thrown Australian and New Zealand businesses’ dependence on China into stark relief. With countries reportedly competing with and undercutting each other to secure desperately needed medical supplies from China, many are now waking up to their economic exposure to a single manufacturing giant.

“A cooperative trans-Tasman manufacturing strategy should be on the table right now and in any future bilateral trade policy conversations.”


Professor James Higham, Professor of Tourism, University of Otago and Dr Freya Higgins-Desbiolles, Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management, University of South Australia, comment:

Note: these comments are excerpted from The Conversation.

“A travel bubble would see quarantine-free travel allowed between Australia and New Zealand.

“The two neighbours have a unique opportunity to do this. Not only are they geographically isolated, both have so far had success containing – perhaps even eliminating – COVID-19 cases within their borders.

“It is not yet known when international flows of tourists will be possible again. But it is understood that global tourism as we once knew it will not be possible until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.

“The beauty of our shared travel markets is our visitors are generally repeat visitors who head to diverse regions. Because more than 70% of Australians book self-drive holidays, for example, their spending spreads more widely than some other visitors.

“Australians seek skiing and adventure in Queenstown, wine in the Martinborough or Waiheke Island regions. They also support Australian sports teams competing in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. In reverse, lots of Kiwis head to the Gold Coast but also visit the Hunter Valley for wine or Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane for sports events.

“Starting to rebuild these markets while the rest of the world remains in lockdown would represent a huge boost to both economies.”

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Energy Sector: Meridian Spilled Water To Hike Electricity Prices - Authority Ruling

The Electricity Authority has found that generator Meridian Energy manipulated the power market, costing consumers about $80 million. More>>


XE Data Update: RBNZ Official Cash Rate Decision

The RBNZ will keep the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 0.25%. T he key points in the RBNZ statement are: RBNZ keeps the OCR unchanged at 0.25% Maintain the LSAP (large scale asset purchase) at NZD$60 billion. Committee prepared to use additional monetary ... More>>


Electricity: Kiwis Ignore Promise Of Cheaper Power

Electric Kiwi and Flick Electric Co are joint winners of Canstar Blue’s award for Most Satisfied Customers | Electricity Providers From putting on an extra layer – rather than turning on a heater – to turning off lights and choosing the energy-saving ... More>>


Economy: COVID-19 Contributes To 1.6 Percent Fall In March Quarter GDP

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 1.6 percent in the March 2020 quarter, the largest drop in 29 years, as the initial effects of COVID-19 restrictions impacted on economic activity, Stats NZ said today. This quarter’s GDP results showed a widespread drop ... More>>


Electricity: Transmission Pricing For A Low Carbon Future

The Electricity Authority has decided on new guidelines for transmission pricing. James Stevenson-Wallace, Chief Executive of the Electricity Authority says the new guidelines will deliver significant benefits to consumers, through lower electricity ... More>>


ASB: Investor Confidence Falls To Four-Year Low

As the world grapples with the fallout from the most significant pandemic the world has seen in a century, economic concerns are weighing on investors, dragging investor confidence down to a four-year low in the first quarter of the year. For the three ... More>>


Science Media Centre: Funding For R&D In New Zealand – Expert Reaction

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Megan Woods has today announced $401.3 million funding for research and development through Budget 2020 and the COVID Response and Recovery Fund. The fund includes $150 million for an R&D loan scheme, ... More>>


Science: 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes Announced

The 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes have been announced in a digital livestream event today. The Prizes recognise the impact of science on New Zealanders’ lives, celebrate the achievements of current scientists and encourage scientists of the ... More>>


RNZ: Fuel, Alcohol Costs To Go Up From Today

The increase today in the taxes on fuel, road user charges and alcohol is being called a tone-deaf move. More>>


Stardome Observatory: Young Kiwi Astro-Photographer Shoots For The Stars

Matariki by Josh Kirkley. The stars are aligning for up-and-coming Auckland-based astro-photographer Josh Kirkley (Kāi Tahu). During lockdown, one of his images was picked up by NASA and shared on the space agency’s Instagram to its 59.2 million ... More>>

DCANZ: Time For EU To Commit To A Level Playing Field For Trade

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU. Details leaked ... More>>


Potatoes New Zealand: Protecting NZ Fries As Part Of PNZ Pandemic Recovery & Transformation Plan

Potatoes New Zealand has met with Minister Faafoi this week to discuss investigating the potential importation of heavily discounted frozen potato chips into New Zealand. With MBIE’s support we are undertaking an investigation to gather evidence of the ... More>>


New Zealand Government: Supporting Kiwi Businesses To Resolve Rent Disputes

The Government will legislate to ensure businesses that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 response will get help to resolve disputes over commercial rent issues, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. More>>


Science Media Centre: Understanding 5G Concerns – Expert Q&A

Recent attacks on cell phone towers have brought concerns over the rollout of 5G technology into sharp relief.
While scientific research has consistently shown that the technology does not adversely affect human health, public concerns about its impact have spread around the world, fueled in part by growing misinformation online. The SMC asked experts to comment... More>>


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>