Both the New Zealand opposition and Tourism Industry Aotearoa have hit out at Jacinda Ardern for another trans-Tasman bubble setback.
On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced she would nominate a bubble opening date on April 6, pushing out quarantine-free travel for Australians to allow for another two weeks of behind-the-scenes work.
National party leader Judith Collins, who has this month mounted a campaign to open the bubble at pace, criticised her Labour counterpart for her unpreparedness to act on her own long-held goal.
“The prime minister is immensely averse to actually making a decision,” she said.
Ms Ardern noted a number of operational factors that would need to be satisfied before the public start-date could be announced. She said that getting the final green light on the arrangement was “highly complex”.
The Tourism Industry needs answers
Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Chris Roberts says the industry was desperately keen to be given a date for the bubble to open this week.
He said operators were tired of delays.
“The intention was to get everything ready to go when the time was right. The health experts say trans-Tasman travel can now be done safely, so any delay is frustrating.”
Chris Roberts, Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive
“Separated families want to know when they can be reunited, sporting teams when they can travel, and Kiwi tourism businesses when they will be able to welcome back Australian visitors,” Mr Roberts says.
He said until tourism operators are given a firm date, they cannot take bookings with confidence or scale up in terms of staff and services, with the pushback leaving them in limbo until after Easter.
However, despite the delays, Mr Roberts says he remains hopeful that the bubble can still be operating before the end of April.
On Monday, Air New Zealand loaded a schedule of bookable trans-Tasman fares into its online system for travel from Australian cities from April 19 onwards.
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