The truism “there’s always someone worse off than you” is usually cold comfort, but incredibly has this month become true for the bludgeoned Australian tourism industry.
We may be beaten and battered, but spare a thought for our Kiwi cousins who have been told it will be at least another five months until they are able to welcome any international visitors.
While her empathetic approach to several pre-COVID crises garnered strong overseas support for New Zealand Prime MInister Jacinda Ardern, the situation seems to not be so rosy for her at home where a rising tide of anger at her increasingly incomprehensible isolationist policies has left the industry in despair.
We may be frustrated at the haphazard way Australia’s reopening plan is progressing, but it must be said we are streets ahead of the situation across the Tasman, where Ardern has responded to industry pleas for certainty by announcing that international tourists – including Aussies – will not be welcome in NZ until May!
Not only that, they will then have to spend seven days in self-isolation before being able to begin their NZ holiday.
This mind-boggling policy confirms the a clear anti-tourism and anti-growth stance of Ardern and her cronies, who have also decided that now is the perfect time to increase border levies.
Talk about kicking an industry – which by the way is a mainstay of the Kiwi economy – while it’s down! And to add insult to injury, the reopening plan leaves the country’s formerly vibrant tourism sector in limbo, by allowing fully vaccinated Kiwis to leave the country and return from Australia without quarantine from 16 January, and then from anywhere else in the world from 13 February.
As several commentators have noted in recent days, that is certain to mean that domestic travel, which until now had been somewhat supported by strong local demand from New Zealanders keen for a holiday after being locked up for so long, is once again being left out in the cold, because anyone with an itch to travel will be out of there like a flash – with no corresponding inbound visitation to fill the gap.
You have to feel sorry for anyone trying to promote Kiwi tourism, because with policies like this it must be like trying to fight a boxing match with one hand tied behind your back.