Opening the Trans Tasman to quarantine-free flights is a big moment and a positive for families, tourism and business, says Auckland Business Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett, “but conditions apply, and the rule is safety first”.

“This long-awaited travel bubble with our biggest trading partner is a pilot to prove we can open our borders and keep travellers and residents safe. It’s a singular opportunity to apply all the learning, test, track, trace and isolate technologies, processes, procedures and personal responsibilities we’ve used and improved in the last 12 months,” he says. “That means no compromise of any criteria prior to departure, on board and on arrival.”

Mr Barnett said while families will be rejoicing at the prospect of reunions and business will seize the opportunity to go after new relationships and visit key customers to regain momentum, the tourism sector will need a rebuilding plan with attractive products and great service as there will no longer be a captive audience but competition to holiday at home or across the Ditch.

“Opening up to Australia is an important step in boosting confidence and personal, business and trade ties but it will not be an instant panacea and will not herald a return to pre-Covid boom times. We can see the glimmer of a more stable future with vaccination rolling out, a containment and elimination response framework in place and application of new knowledge and better safeguards to reduce the uncertainty and risk of further lockdowns. We just have to remember that we are all in it together and everyone has to do their bit to keep us all safe.

“We have to get it right so this first exchange with Australia can be the template for opening up travel with other safe countries and really set our recovery in motion.”

For more information contact Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Business Chamber, mobile: 0275 631 150.