Tourism bodies in Australia and New Zealand chose the run-up to Anzac Day – a date of deep significance on both sides of the Tasman – to call for a permanent Trans-Tasman Visa for international tourists that would cover both countries.
This would make long-haul flights to Australia and New Zealand more enticing, the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) and Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) argue.
A temporary Trans-Tasman Visa arrangement was implemented during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, in which visitors travelling between 26 January and 5 April 2015 only required an Australian Visa to travel over to New Zealand. A three-month visa was granted upon arrival in New Zealand to those holding an eligible Australian visa through the period.
The TTF and TIA have written a joint letter to Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Border Protection calling for the implementation of a permanent Trans-Tasman Visa by the end of 2016.
“Australia and New Zealand are long-haul destinations – it makes a lot of sense for us to package the two countries together in a joint regional visa to prospective international tourists who are weighing up the long flight to our countries,” TTF chief executive Margy Osmond said.
“The reality is that if you are coming halfway around the world to Australia or New Zealand you want to make it worth your while, just as travelling to Europe we visit a multitude of countries on that continent not just one.
“Seamless travel between Australia and New Zealand for our own citizens and international visitors is a goal we should be strongly pursuing to make our two nations a more attractive destination in what is a cut-throat, competitive tourism market.
“A 2014 TTF investigation into the benefits of streamlining the Trans-Tasman border highlighted that a joint visa scheme could increase the number of international visitors to our region by 141,300 people by 2020 – that’s more jobs and economic activity we are missing out on by dragging our feet on a Trans-Tasman Visa.”
TIA chief executive, Chris Roberts, said experience during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 proved that a Trans-Tasman Visa arrangement could bring more visitors to both countries.
“The New Zealand Government’s review of the visa arrangements during the Cricket World Cup shows that during the 39 days it was in place, 7239 travellers from 77 nations entered New Zealand using the Trans-Tasman Visa,” Roberts said.
“Approximately 40% of the international visitors who used the arrangement were Chinese – a non-playing nation in the World Cup – which just goes to show the potential a permanent and cleverly-marketed Trans-Tasman Visa could have in the Asia-Pacific region.
“It makes sense to invest and market a joint Australia-New Zealand experience to potential international visitors. This is already happening successfully elsewhere – for example the Schengen zone of 28 European countries, where a single visitor visa is required.
“Our organisations are encouraging the Australian Government to complete its own review as a matter of urgency and work with the New Zealand Government to put in place a permanent Trans-Tasman Visa by the end of 2016.
“The Cricket World Cup has shown it can work, we just need the will of our governments to bring down this travel barrier between our countries permanently.”
Edited by Peter Needham