Brent Thomas Brent Thomas

TAANZ: ‘Bookings may heat up’

Brent Thomas, president of the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ), says the Government's Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World Forum, including announcements from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, had plenty of positives for travel agents.

‘We are definitely seeing a shift in terms of self isolation when retuning from low risk countries.’

Thomas says it was encouraging to hear Sir David Skegg, chair of the Strategic Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Group, talking about borders opening when all New Zealanders have had the opportunity to be vaccinated as opposed to actually being vaccinated.

‘That will be encouraging for the travel industry to start the booking process.’

He says it was encouraging to hear the high levels of vaccination, with the Prime Minister saying 261,000 people were vaccinated last week. ‘It’s clear that by the end of August the amount of people vaccinated will be materially greater than it is now.’

Thomas adds that people will be thinking they do not want to go through a third winter in New Zealand. ‘If you look at the low risk countries being the Pacific and maybe Australia, people will have less choice than they used to. So they will need to book quickly.’

Looking further afield, vaccinated New Zealanders being able to travel to medium risk places like the United States and self isolate on return would be a ‘wonderful opportunity’ for the trade.

‘Self isolation would be a game changer.’

He says the TAANZ board is meeting mid-morning today to discuss the PM’s announcement and is looking to meet other industry leaders in the week of 23 August to discuss next steps.

Lynda Keene, chief executive of Tourism Export Council (TEC) NZ says inbound operators will also be heartened by yesterday’s announcements.

‘There seems to be an open mat to considering welcoming back international visitors in 2022. We support the phased re-entry approach. If we could have the US market back in quarter one, Asia in Q2 and Europe in Q3 that would give inbounders some comfort in terms of
the survivability of the sector. If any markets could come back sooner that would be a bonus.’

Keene expects some of her members to take the opportunity to be part of the upcoming trial to allow business travel. ‘If our ITOs could meet with offshore customers it would be fantastic and it would gve assurance to the marketplace that N ew Zealand will be opening in 2022.’

(Read earlier story here)

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