6 April 2021

Trans-Tasman bubble “a welcome relief” for Canterbury businesses

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson says businesses have been eagerly awaiting today’s announcement regarding the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

The Prime Minister today announced that Cabinet has approved a proposal for quarantine-free trans-Tasman travel, set to come into effect on April 19.

Ms Watson says the tight border controls have been one of the key challenges for the local business community, so the announcement will be “a welcome relief”.  

“The significant impact of the border restrictions on spending in the region and the ability for business to operate and trade at capacity has been very keenly felt, with pockets of the business community severely hit. 

“Prior to Covid-19, Australia was Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest international visitor market, accounting for almost half of all international visitor arrivals, and spending approximately $2.7 billion, so as we head into the colder months, an influx of visitors from Australia will have a significant positive impact on many businesses, particularly in the hospitality and tourism sectors. It will also be a boost for small businesses, such as retailers, who rely on international tourism spend, and are also shouldering additional costs due to operating in a Covid environment and the increased Minimum Wage from 1 April. 

“Our ski season in Canterbury and the South Island is typically a key drawcard for many Australian visitors, and with 53% of Australian holiday visitors flying direct to the South Island pre-Covid, this will help to spread some economic benefits to the smaller tourism-reliant regions that are really hurting, such as Te Anau, as well as being a win for Ōtautahi Christchurch as the Gateway to the South. We also know that Christchurch Airport is ready and safe for travellers.

“There’s no doubt strict border management from a year ago was the right thing to do from a public health perspective, so it is time now to also focus on our country’s economic health and protecting the livelihoods of our community. We also know just how important it is for the health and wellbeing of our people who have been unable to visit with friends and whānau across the Tasman for over a year.” 

As well as the benefits of increased spend from in-bound travel, Ms Watson says a safe travel zone will remove a significant hurdle for businesses reliant on trans-Tasman travel, particularly under-pressure exporters and manufacturers.

“In a highly connected marketplace, this is an important milestone for businesses where trans-Tasman travel is a critical part of the business, such as exporters and those with highly specialised staff. Removing the need and cost of quarantine, and the bottleneck caused by limited MIQ spots will enable businesses to again respond quickly to market requirements and opportunities and be able to readily engage in time-sensitive travel where needed. 

“The Government’s extension of the aviation relief package to the end of October and consideration of extending support until the end of March 2022 if necessary, will also give certainty to under pressure exporters, which shows the Government’s commitment to support exporters until the increased freights costs and disruptions ease.

“With the vaccination roll-out gaining momentum, we are optimistic that we have started to reach a turning point in our response to one of the most significant economic disruptors of our generation.”

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For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Leeann Watson, Chief Executive, 027 447 7775, [email protected]

The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) is a not-for-profit membership-based service organisation that has been the home and voice of business in the Canterbury region since 1859. Comprised of over 2,600 member organisations that represent over 60,000 employees, The Chamber’s purpose is to empower people in business by providing advisory and consultancy support in employment relations, human resources, health and safety, international trade, manufacturing, migrant support, research and development grants, and training and development in many areas.

Affiliated to BusinessNZ and the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry