Australia NZ tourism frets over Tasman bubble delays
New Zealand-Australia travel bubble suspension extended as guests from Auckland's Pullman Hotel make their way across the Tasman
Australia's trans-Tasman travel bubble with New Zealand will remain shut until Sunday at least, with concerns around a number of Auckland's Pullman Hotel guests who have made their way to Australia. Here's the state of play.The decision made by the Federal Government comes as more cases have been confirmed in New Zealand, with more testing and contact tracing underway across the ditch.
New Zealand tourism figures are despairing at fresh setbacks to the trans-Tasman bubble, saying they need international visitors - and soon - to avoid mass layoffs and business failures.
Hopes for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand took a hit this week as NZ's first community COVID-19 case in weeks prompted Australia to suspend its one-way arrangement.
Few want the bubble working more than New Zealand's tourism businesses.
With borders closed to international visitors, Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) estimates the sector will miss out on $NZ6 billion ($A5.6 billion) this summer.
Ongoing travel restrictions put 32,000 tourism businesses at risk of failing, as end of JobKeeper looms
The tourism industry is calling for support from the federal government, as new research shows 32,000 operators could fail this year.New research by peak industry body Tourism and Transport Forum found 32,000 tourism businesses risk failing this year due to ongoing coronavirus travel restrictions, The Australian Financial Review reports.
A third of that spend would have come from Australians, and perhaps more given a bubble would make New Zealand the only international destination available to jetsetting Aussies.
Before Christmas, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern targeted the "first quarter" of 2021 for open borders, but on Tuesday the NZ leader said Australia's reaction made the prospect "increasingly difficult".
Frustrated TIA chief executive Chris Roberts sees the bubble slipping away.
"Every time we almost get to the prize it gets snatched away," he told AAP.
"The government was proposing to make it two-way in the first quarter and they were going to give us a precise date for that in early January.
"Now we're at the end of January and our prime minister is signalling it's getting more difficult.
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"Our tourism businesses need customers."
Mr Roberts says many companies have enjoyed strong summers off the back of domestic holiday makers, but those in remote pockets of New Zealand - such as South Island's Fjordland and Westland - are battling.
"Te Anau, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier, places where Kiwis don't tend to go have felt like ghost towns," he said.
"Things have dropped away considerably since early January and that will fall again further next week when schools go back.
"Operators are telling us they're very nervous.
"Thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses could disappear because the cash flows from Christmas and the New Year are not going to sustain them much further."
One such operator, Te Anau-based Fjordland Trips and Tramps, is keeping its head above water by putting together a package combining three great walks.
"Five hundred people have booked that through the summer season. That's enough to keep three or four staff," owner Steve Norris told AAP.
NRL clubs anxiously awaiting COVID-19 player bubble decision for 2021 season
NRL clubs are on standby as they wait for the ARL to make a call on whether players will need to enter a biosecurity bubble ahead of this year's season.With Queensland lifting border restrictions imposed on residents in Greater Sydney at the start of February, the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) is hopeful that the competition remains on track with few restrictions on players.
"But no one is making any money at Milford Sound. I moved here in 1990 and I've not seen it like it is now."
Mr Norris said February and March are the biggest months of the tourism year but operators would be "lucky to hit 10 per cent" this year.
"All of New Zealand has now gone back to work," he said, adding he was "beyond building up hope" for a bubble.
"We'll believe it when we're taking Australians on tours," he said.
"And soon companies are going to have to make hard decisions to shut up doors and mothball - or the receivers will come in."
Mr Roberts said he supported the safety-first approach, but a bubble delay would mean his industry needs more support.
"The single biggest assistance government could give would be opening up the Tasman," he said.
"There's pent up demand in Australia, particularly if we're the one choice. There's a huge prize we just can't access."
Dire warning on future of tourism industry .
There are calls for more Federal Government support for the tourism industry amid warnings it will continued to be devastated by international border closures.Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy warned yesterday it is unlikely there will be a return to widespread overseas travel this year.