New Zealand’s decision to fully open its borders again will be a huge fillip for the country’s cruise industry which has been starved of international business for more than two years.
Destinations like the Bay of Plenty, where the port of Tauranga is the gateway to the Rotorua geothermal region, will be ready to welcome back ships as soon as cruise companies can work New Zealand back into their schedules.
NZ tourism minister, Stuart Nash, said that the return of cruise ships would be a major boost for local economies.
“Most cruise visits are during the warmer months of October to April. It will be full steam ahead for the industry, who can plan with certainty for the rest of the year and beyond,” Nash said.
Pre-pandemic, cruise travellers spent half a billion dollars per year, according to government estimates.
NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern called the removal of restrictions an "enormous moment", saying it was part of a "cautious process".
"New Zealanders are hosts. Manaakitanga [hospitality] streams through our veins and we open our arms to tourists and students, including from China, which prior to 2020 was New Zealand’s largest source of international students, and second-largest source of tourists,” the PM added.
Most visitors to New Zealand will still need to be fully vaccinated, but there are no quarantine requirements.
Travellers will have to provide proof of their vaccination status to their booking agent or the operator as well as "comply with New Zealand's domestic COVID-19 requirements around mask-wearing, and testing”.