The long-awaited travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is finally taking off, and experts say it is sparking “ cautious ” optimism about the rest.
On April 18 at 11:59 p.m. Australians will be able to cross the ditch and return home without quarantine, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday.
This will be the first time since the closing of international borders in March last year that Australians will be allowed to travel abroad without the need to quarantine on their return.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the two-way bubble as “the first of many other steps to come” on the road to COVID-normal.
“The fact that we can now combine again will mean jobs, will mean people will come together. This will mean many opportunities as these normal relations are reestablished between Australia and New Zealand, ”said Mr. Morrison.
David Beirman, senior lecturer in tourism at UTS Business School, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the travel bubble.
“New Zealand has tended to be very nervous about the coronavirus … it also seems to close borders quite regularly … but we have to look on the bright side,” Dr Beirman said.
“On the one hand, New Zealand is the first country Australians have been allowed to visit in over a year… it’s a big change.”
A one-way bubble has been in place since October, with New Zealanders allowed to travel without quarantine in Australia and pay to undergo hotel quarantine upon their return to New Zealand.
“What we are seeing now is reciprocal, and very similar to the bubbles that started in Europe in June and July of last year. So basically nine months after the Europeans did it, we actually start doing it, ”Dr Beirman said.
RMIT aviation expert Chrystal Zhang said the travel bubble was “good news for business and leisure travelers” as well as for the tourism industry and airlines.
“This is an indication in my opinion that the government and the industry are ready… They are convinced that they are capable of dealing with any type of event,” said Dr. Zhang.
“ Watch out for the Flyer ”: the Trans-Tasman bubble is not without risk
Those who wish to take advantage of the new bubble have been warned that travel will no longer be the same as before the pandemic, but rather operate on a ‘flyer, beware’ basis.
Canceled flights, self-isolation orders and the 14-day hotel quarantine are some of the risks travelers face in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
“While non-quarantine travel to Australia and vice versa will begin in a fortnight, it will not be what it was before COVID,” Ms. Ardern said.
Although she encouraged Australians to “come and enjoy the hospitality New Zealand is ready to offer,” Ms Ardern warned that “those who undertake trips on either side of the divide will do so under the guidance of flyer , beware ”.
“Once we know of a case in Australia, we will have three possible answers regarding flights and access to our border, and we have captured them with a framework based on continue, pause or suspend,” he said. she declared.
There are a lot of things that can jeopardize the bubble, warned Dr Beirman.
He cited the example of a travel bubble between Spain and the UK, which only lasted a few weeks before it emerged due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
“But we have to be very cautiously optimistic. I think in principle that’s great. This creates a lot of opportunities, ”said Dr Beirman.
Will we see more travel bubbles?
The trans-Tasman travel bubble is a “test case” for future travel bubbles with other countries that have had similar success in containing COVID-19, Dr Beirman said.
“I think if we can be successful with the Trans-Tasmanian bubble, then we can start looking at the next bubble,” he said.
All is well, a bubble could be created between Australia, Fiji and Vanuatu, Dr Beirman said.
“There have also been a number of countries in East and South East Asia that have successfully contained COVID, and these are all places Australians would like to go,” Dr Beirman said. .
According to Dr Zhang, countries like Singapore, China and Vietnam could be next on the list for travel between Australia.