APRIL 19 will be a historic day, with New Zealand and Australia to finally share reciprocal no-quarantine travel after an announcement on Tuesday. While nothing is set in stone with COVID-19, the declaration is the surest step yet towards opened borders.
But while it will make history, the decision may not make everyone happy.
One way the region could benefit is Newcastle Airport's ability to link passengers directly with New Zealand, a service that has traditionally operated over the summer period. While it appears unlikely airlines will rush to add winter services, the region can potentially reap the benefits if the service is in place later this year.
While the airport would be ready to welcome trans-Tasman voyages, Hunter tourism providers may be less than eager to lose a share of the market they have served exclusively for more than a year.
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Broad employment figures have been better than expected so far, but the end of JobKeeper is yet to be fully quantified. A saving grace for some businesses has likely been the captive audience of Australians, offering some salve to the void left by foreign visitors. In the Hunter traditional drawcards including Port Stephens and the vineyards have reported large influxes of visitors. Given the region's proximity to Sydney, it has potentially been a safe option amid interstate border uncertainty for those keen to escape the NSW capital.
Caution may keep the region's economic fortunes buoyant for holidaymakers who are unwilling to risk a 14-day quarantine either in New Zealand or upon return. Levels of demand remain to be seen, along with many of the logistics, but it is a promising step towards the elusive normal.
Of course, the pace of the vaccine rollout is likely to ground any flights of fancy about a smorgasbord of destinations. Beyond the bubble it is likely passengers will require the inoculation to travel. Precisely when Australians will have received their first jab, let alone the second, is a timeline that becomes harder to predict by the day. Tardiness may have very real economic consequences, particularly if Australia falls behind other nations in the minds of potential visitors. With England reinstating international travel next month, the world is beginning to leave hibernation. Caution comes first, but the fact remains that locking in an international destination is truly proof we're flying in the right direction.
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