Brent Thomas, president of TAANZ Brent Thomas, president of TAANZ

Level 4 'silver lining'

The travel and tourism industries say the galvanising of the general public to take the jab is a silver lining in the grim reality of a Level 4 lockdown.

Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) president , Brent Thomas, says it is important to give credit where it’s due and acknowledge that the vaccination rate has picked up markedly.

‘From a travel industry point of view that means we will likely to be on target for the government to start opening the borders early next year as promised,’ says Thomas.

He says TAANZ is now asking two specific things of the government.

‘One is that MIQ must be sorted out.

‘The other is to get behind the IATA Travel Pass. We don’t want them to be doing something different, we want things as simple as possible for both the business and leisure traveller.’

Thomas says it is encouraging to see the USA vaccination rates picking up again, particularly in some of the states that had been lagging.  ‘We need to understand which countries the government will regard a low risk, and if the USA’s vaccinations continue to increase will they fall into that category?’

He adds that ultimately the industry will get out of its current position by having people travelling again – not by receiving government handouts.’

Tourism Export Council NZ chair Scott Mehrtens says it was spelt out at the council’s recent conference by Minister Stuart Nash that the only way the borders can really open is if we have a high level of vaccination.

‘I hate to say it but it was always going to take a shock for people to become less complacent. That’s a silver lining of  the current situation.’’

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