Tourists finally return to New Zealand for the first time in two years

Reunited at last: Emotional Brits finally see loved ones in New Zealand for the first time in two years after government dropped pandemic border restrictions

  • New Zealand has eased up its Covid rules to spark heartbreaking family reunions as loved ones are allowed in
  • Tourists from over 50 countries are allowed to visit for the first time in two years as the borders opened again
  • Any foreign visitors need to be vaccinated and are asked to test themselves for the virus after arriving
  • But most tourists from India, China and other non-waiver countries are still not allowed to enter the country

New Zealand has begun welcoming back tourists from Britain, the US, Canada, Japan and more than 50 other countries in heartbreaking scenes which have seen families reunite for the first time in years.

The country has now dropped most of its remaining pandemic border restrictions, prompting the return of tourists for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

One woman flew in from London via Los Angeles to visit her daughter, Holly, for the first time since lockdowns started. 

In that time, Holly has had a baby who will turn one next week so her grandmother will be able to be there for the celebrations.

She said: ‘I’ve flown in from London via Los Angeles. It was a very long journey, but so worth it. I took one of the first flights I could when we were allowed to come back in again. 

As her daughter cried, her mother, who will spend more than two weeks with her in Hamilton, added: ‘One of the most important things is she’s had a baby. Holly’s had a little baby. So I’m going to be seeing my granddaughter for the first time as well.

‘I haven’t seen their new home. They bought a home in the meantime. It’s just being there with them. That’s going to be the most important thing.’

In another video, an elderly couple waited for their son Steven, his Brazilian wife Clarisse and their 18-month-old grandson Nicholas.

The grandfather said: ‘We last saw them just about a year ago. We can’t go bungee jumping with an 18-month-old, but it’ll be great for my son to get back and meet his mates and old haunts. We’ve moved into a new house, so it’ll be lovely to show them that as well.’

One woman flew in from London via Los Angeles to visit her daughter, Holly, for the first time since lockdowns started

In that time, Holly has had a baby who will turn one next week so her grandmother will be able to be there for the celebrations

In another video, an elderly couple waited for their son Steven, his Brazilian wife Clarisse and their 18-month-old grandson Nicholas

The grandfather (right) said: ‘We last saw them just about a year ago. We can’t go bungee jumping with an 18-month-old, but it’ll be great for my son to get back and meet his mates and old haunts. We’ve moved into a new house, so it’ll be lovely to show them that as well’

But while new Zealand granted visa-waivers to 60 countries covering much of Europe, most tourists from India, China and other non-waiver countries are still not allowed to enter.

Before the spread of Covid-19, more than three million tourists visited each year, accounting for 20% of New Zealand’s foreign income and more than 5% of the overall economy.

But international tourism stopped altogether in early 2020 after New Zealand imposed some of the world’s toughest border restrictions.

The border rules remained in place as the government at first pursued an elimination strategy and then tried to tightly control the spread of the virus.

The spread of Omicron and vaccinations of more than 80% of New Zealand’s five million population prompted the gradual easing of restrictions.

Tourists will need to be vaccinated and to test themselves for the virus after arriving.

‘Today is a day to celebrate, and is a big moment in our reconnection with the world,’ said tourism minister Stuart Nash.

At Auckland Airport, flights bringing in tourists began landing from early in the morning, coming in direct from places including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. 

Families embrace after a flight from Los Angeles arrived at Auckland International Airport as New Zealand’s border opened for visa-waiver countries Monday

New Zealand welcomed tourists from the US, Canada, Britain, Japan and more than 50 other countries for the first time in more than two years as it dropped most of its remaining pandemic border restrictions

Before the spread of Covid-19, more than three million tourists visited each year, accounting for 20% of New Zealand’s foreign income and more than 5% of the overall economy

The spread of Omicron and vaccinations of more than 80% of New Zealand’s five million population prompted the gradual easing of restrictions

Visitors need to be vaccinated and are asked to test themselves for the virus after arriving. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were no immediate plans to ease virus testing and vaccination requirements for tourists

The Prime Minister said: ‘Our tourism industry have felt the effects of the global pandemic acutely and are working hard to prepare.’

The border reopening will help boost tourism ahead of New Zealand’s upcoming ski season. But the real test of how much the tourism industry rebounds will come in December, when the peak summer season begins in the Southern Hemisphere nation.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more than 90,000 people had booked flights to New Zealand in the seven weeks since the reopening was announced and 21 international flights were scheduled to land on Monday in Auckland.

‘Our tourism industry have felt the effects of the global pandemic acutely and are working hard to prepare,’ she said.

Ms Ardern said there were no immediate plans to ease virus testing and vaccination requirements for tourists.

Emotional reunions took place this morning in the arrivals area when the first flight touched down at 5.45am local time

The border reopening will help boost tourism ahead of New Zealand’s upcoming ski season. But the real test of how much the tourism industry rebounds will come in December, when the peak summer season begins in the Southern Hemisphere nation

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more than 90,000 people had booked flights to New Zealand in the seven weeks since the reopening was announced and 21 international flights were scheduled to land on Monday in Auckland

Source: Read Full Article