While hope still remains for the trans-Tasman bubble to become two-way before Christmas, both Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand are expecting it to take a little longer.
Speaking at Travel DAZE 2020 yesterday, Tourism NZ’s director of commercial, René de Monchy, said the organisation was planning for a fully-fledged trans-Tasman bubble to kick off in the first quarter of 2021.
“We have been moving our planning [like] everybody else,” he said.
“There was a moment that we thought it was July, and then it was October, and then of course we had in both countries flare-ups [of COVID-19] between then and now.
“But, we have our plans ready and we can push play in a matter of days on a lot of that content.
“I think that’s going to be one of the challenges – there is the possibility that if an announcement is made, there may not be a lot of notice.”
Kathryn Robertson, regional general manager for Australia at Air New Zealand, said the airline was also “realistically looking at Q1 next year” for when Aussies will finally be allowed to travel to the Land of the Long White Cloud.
“We were always of the view that Australia needed to open its domestic borders first, and then once that was happening, I think New Zealand would be next on the list,” she said.
“We know the governments are talking, so that’s good. The one-way bubble has definitely been a step in the right direction, and we have seen pretty okay loads.”
Having already set up “a lot of processes and protocols” for the one-way travel bubble which kicked off last month, Robertson said Air New Zealand is “very clear now” on what will be needed once it becomes two-way.
“We’ve worked really closely with the airports to understand their safe travel zones, and we’ve got what we call ‘green zones’ and ‘red zones’ for those flights that are just coming from New Zealand versus those that are coming from other places,” she explained.
“We’re ready to go, we’ve done a lot of planning – a lot of thinking – and we’re just ready to flick the switch once we know.”
Both de Monchy and Robertson said they wouldn’t be surprised if Fiji was included in the bubble at some point. Air New Zealand’s Aussie boss also floated the possibility of the Cook Islands getting in on the action.
“Cook Islands, Fiji – that kind of [Pacific Islands] bubble I think will be pretty soon after the trans-Tasman … maybe even before?” she said.
“If the Australian-New Zealand thing doesn’t go as planned, then maybe some of those islands will come back first.”
You can watch the Travel DAZE session featuring de Monchy and Robertson in full, on demand HERE.
And, there are still more speakers to come this week as part of Travel DAZE 2020. Check out when they will be featuring HERE.
Image source: iStock/babyrhino