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Pre-departure test for NZ travellers could turn off travel: tourism expert

Pre-departure Covid tests could turn some off travelling to New Zealand, a tourism expert has warned.

Mandatory pre-departure Covid tests for Australian travellers flying to New Zealand, which can cost hundreds of dollars, could turn people off trans-Tasman travel in the future, a tourism industry expert has claimed.

Quarantine-free travel from Australia resumed earlier this week as states continue to manage growing coronavirus outbreaks.

But earlier this week the New Zealand government imposed a mandatory pre-departure Covid-19 test for anyone flying into the country.

A woman hugs a family member before his departure for New Zealand at Sydney International Airport.
A woman hugs a family member before his departure for New Zealand at Sydney International Airport.

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Passengers are required to have the test within 72 hours of leaving Australia and must present proof of a negative pre-departure test before boarding.

Chris Roberts, chief executive of New Zealand’s Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), said the requirement could be too restrictive for travellers who were already paying high prices for flights.

He said the tests cost between $170 and $220 each.

“Travel is increasingly complicated and expensive, and for many people who would like to come here, it may just be getting too hard,” Mr Roberts told NCA NewsWire.

“Hopefully, the community cases in Australia can successfully be brought under control and this requirement can be lifted.”

After 395 days, international travel between New Zealand and Australia has opened, in which travellers were warmly greeted at Wellington airport.

Quarantine-free travel from the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria resumed this week.

Travelling to New Zealand remains restricted for anyone who was in Queensland or NSW after 10.30pm (NZT) on June 26 or at an Australian location of interest before then.

New Zealanders stuck in either of the states are still eligible to return home from 11.59pm on Friday.

Mr Roberts said planes in Queenstown were almost full when flights resumed on Monday.

“It seems that many Australians, who had already booked and paid for holidays, were prepared to endure the additional cost and inconvenience of being tested,” he said.

“The concern is with future bookings.

“Pre-departure testing … should be used when it is required, but we hope it does not become a permanent feature.”

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