New Zealand businesses will have access to an international talent pool as a result of the bubble with Australia.

Hotel and tourism employers across New Zealand have praised a decision by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to lift the suspension on processing Working Holiday Maker visas, provided applicants are currently in Australia.

The move follows the opening this week of the inaugural travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand, with nearly 2,000 Aussies touching down ‘across the ditch’ on the first day.

New Zealand’s Working Holiday Maker Visa was suspended last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, applicants from 14 countries – UK, USA, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden – are now welcome to apply if they wish to move to New Zealand from Australia. INZ says it will process applications within the usual time frame.

Prior to the pandemic, 13.6% of everybody employed in New Zealand worked in or close to the tourism industry.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) says the Immigration New Zealand decision was welcomed by employers nationwide, relieved to learn they will have access to a talent pool of offshore workers to help them scale up their operations and return to offering the high-quality experiences Australians would be craving when visiting for their holidays.

TIA Chief Executive, Chris Roberts, said employers were reporting significant staff shortages in areas hard hit by the pandemic, including Queenstown, Te Anau and many major cities.

“This is great news for tourism and hospitality businesses struggling to find additional staff, especially temporary and part-time roles,” Roberts said.

Foreign workers from 14 countries can again enter New Zealand to work.

“There may be up to 45,000 young travellers in Australia although we don’t know how many would be from the 14 eligible countries.”

New Zealand has reciprocal Working Holiday Maker visa arrangements in place with 45 countries, however ongoing border restrictions mean opening access to the remaining 31 would be deferred for the time being. Visas are open to people aged 18-30, allowing them to travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if they are from the UK or Canada.