Kiwi flights ‘would be best Christmas gift ever’
GOLD Coast tourism bosses are agitating for a Queensland-New Zealand tourism bubble by Christmas as key to easing the city's economic woes.
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed this week she would consider a state-by-state bubble, in a shift from previously indicating it would only be considered when all of Australia was open internally.
"We did suggest it would be up to them, but if they did move state by state, that might free things up a little sooner," she told NZ radio this week.
Gold Coast Airport chief operating officer Marion Charlton said the airport was ready to welcome NZ visitors back with an endorsed and proven COVID-safe plan ensuring passengers can feel confident travelling again.
"The Gold Coast is one of the first destinations Kiwis will want to come and visit as soon as travel restarts - it makes sense for this route to open up as a priority," she said.
"The Gold Coast tourism industry has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 related travel restrictions and re-establishing this market would make a huge difference to operators who have been struggling to keep their businesses afloat since March."
Ms Charlton said prior to international travel restrictions, more than 500,000 passengers travelled from the Gold Coast to New Zealand each year and with 60,000 Kiwis living on the Gold Coast, there was a significant number looking forward to reuniting with family and friends.
Tourism Australia chairman Bob East said getting the nation "operating at its maximum potential" was his focus: "My priority is to get a realistic mechanism for controlling how we treat hot spots in Australia and it cannot be borders. We need a more refined approach and if we can achieve that we would welcome a travel bubble with NZ.
"A trial of a NZ travel bubble is clearly the best way forward as we seek to open up international borders."
Mayor Tom Tate said he was "absolutely" supportive.
"We love our friends across the ditch and would love to see a Queensland-NZ bubble," he said.
"It would not only mean a lot to our tourism industry but also thousands of New Zealanders living on the Gold Coast and missing their families."
Asked on Sunday if she supported a trans-Tasman travel bubble for Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: "There's been some preliminary discussions, but nothing has been finalised at National Cabinet".
Queensland had no new cases on Tuesday and eight active cases. NZ has had no new cases with 55 active cases.
The State Government held discussions in June to relaunch flights from NZ to Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Cairns and the Sunshine Coast.
Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan said a flight bubble would be a "perfect gift" for Christmas.
"It would be fantastic to get this given we are NZ's favourite destination to come play.
"It would make a lot of people on the Gold Coast very happy after the catastrophic beating we have taken."
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said Queensland should seriously consider opening to NZ if the opportunity presents and it was safe: "Nobody would say we should open up just for the sake of those dollars if there is a demonstrable health threat but
Queensland should be recognising NZ has done an incredible job of suppressing and managing COVID," he said.
He said if Queensland didn't take an opportunity for a safe reopening to New Zealand "they would be leaving a greater opportunity for a New South Wales or a South Australia to get those Kiwis who might be looking for a bit of a break or escape and spend their money in other states instead".
Former premier Peter Beattie has also backed an NZ travel bubble, listing it in his 11-point manifesto to kickstart jobs in Queensland.
Originally published as Kiwi flights 'would be best Christmas gift ever'