L-R Dean Long, Accommodation Association and Michael Johnson, TAA

Leading Australian hotel, hospitality and tourism associations have responded warmly to the announcement of a Trans-Tasman travel bubble opening between Australia and New Zealand, labelling the move as a “step in the right direction”.

With the bubble kicking off effectively from 19 April and many airlines adding services between the two countries in response to the announcement, both Tourism Accommodation Australia and the Accommodation Association welcomed the move as a positive step for hotels in cities and regional centres across the country.

TAA National CEO, Michael Johnson, said the bubble will finally see the hotel, hospitality and tourism sectors, along with their visitor economies, start to benefit.

Aussies will once again be able to visit Auckland and other parts of NZ from April 19.

“The opening of NZ will also allow us to begin to fine tune our international arrival and departure systems once again in preparation for the rest of the world – once worldwide and Australian vaccinations are successfully rolled out,” Johnson said.

“Australians have been starved of international travel for more than a year now so I’m sure many of us will be heading across the ditch to sample the delights of New Zealand – especially the ski fields as colder months approach.

“Our Kiwi cousins also enjoy the relative warmth of our Aussie winters so we can expect an influx to hard-hit tourism spots like Cairns, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, said despite the positive step of the travel corridor opening, tailored support was still needed for the sector in Sydney and Melbourne as the initial wave of travellers was likely to be people visiting friends and family that may not need to stay in a hotel.

The Accommodation Association says despite the bubble, targeted support for city hotels is still desperately needed.

“The opening of the Trans-Tasman corridor is a very welcome step in the right direction but the reality is while it’s good news for the travel sector, given most travellers will be catching up with friends and families there’s very little immediate benefit for our tourism sector or our hotels and motels,” Long said.

“There’s no doubt it will be a big kick along for consumer confidence but it doesn’t erase the need for tailored support for our accommodation sector.”

Long added that New Zealand was likely to see a positive net gain, with the total spend by Australians in New Zealand prior to COVID was AUD$2.5 billion across 1.5 million Australian visitor arrivals. Kiwis were not far behind in the opposite direction, outlaying nearly AUD$1,800 per trip, with over 1.2 million venturing to Australian shores as of the year ending December 2019.