David Coombes, Flight Centre David Coombes, Flight Centre

Agents hail major step forward, report bookings have started

The travel and tourism sectors have greeted the Government’s five step opening plan with enthusiasm, with TAANZ president Brent Thomas saying this is the first time since March 2020 that the message has clearly been ‘the borders are open’.

However they have also pinpointed major ongoing challenges, particualrly the self isolation requirement. (See separate story this page)

‘I think the statement that within just over a month Kiwis will be able to travel anywhere in the world is an indication that the Government recognises we have done everything that has been asked of us.

‘We are 94% double vaccinated, we’re getting boosted and our five to 11 year olds are gettng vaccinated.’

Thomas says, wearing his chief operating officer of House of Travel hat, that the company has already seen a spike in enquiries. ‘People are really looking to travel and it’s not just to Australia. They need to start booking because much of the rest of the world is aready travelling and some places are booking out.’

Thomas says enquiries started coming in on Wednesday – the day before the announcement in anticipation of the border opening.

John Willson, general manager retail with First Travel Group, describes yesterday’s announcement as great news, especially for the outbound travel sector. 

‘We can now actually sell something and plan for the future. The problem I see is the general public being still so scared to travel, but this will subside once we can get some aircraft in the air operating as per normal. Next week’s TAANZ forum meeting couldn’t be better timed.’

Robyn Galloway, managing director of Innovative Travel, says this is finally some positive news for the outbound travel sector, who has waited almost two years to move from the holding pattern stranglehold.  

‘It is time to help potential clients have the confidence to book and recapture the dream of long haul travel. We, like many other companies, will finally be able to gurantee special interest group tour departures, postponed from 2020. There will be a return to the more traditional pattern of retailers partnering with locally-based wholesale travel companies, as clients seek a more seamless travel experience and the reassurance of full local 24/7 back up.’

David Coombes, managing director of Flight Centre Travel Group NZ says the company is thrilled to be on the way to ‘getting back to what we do best, opening up the world for those who want to see it, but hopeful the Government re-considers its unnecessarily drawn out and strict travel restrictions.  

‘The team at Flight Centre Travel Group (leisure and corporate brands) are ready to help New Zealanders reconnect with the world and navigate this new reality of travel that will involve rapidly changing protocols and precautions at every stage of the traveller’s journey. Never has there been a greater need for an expert by your side.’

Steve Lee, director of New Zealand Travel Brokers, says he is ‘pretty pleased’.

‘Whilst not perfect we’ll take anything at this stage, that will stimulate the market. We’ve already had multiple repatriation bookings (yesterday) and that immediate business will at least help while we wait for the wider relaxation of border restrictions. We really need the self-isolation rules to be relaxed ASAP … until they are gone any meaningful recovery is hamstrung.’

Air New Zealand ramps up

Air New Zealand expects to have more than 300 flights available between New Zealand and Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast for the month of March alone. 

‘Once we have a clearer view as to the level of demand, we will adjust the schedule accordingly, but we're confident there will be seats available for those who need them,’ says chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty. 

‘As expected, we have seen strong demand following the announcement with our first flights on the 28 February almost sold out.’

The airline’s international vaccination policy came into effect on 1 February with all customers travelling on Air New Zealand’s international network now required to show proof of full vaccination.

The airline is working through the required changes to its international schedule to align with 14 March for New Zealanders who are wanting to return home from the rest of the world. 

 

 

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