Quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand could “commence as early as September”, according to a travel industry group comprising of experts from both countries.
The Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group is made up of representatives from 11 government agencies, six airports, two airlines, as well as a host of aviation, biosecurity and medical experts.
“We are poring over every detail and aspect of the customer journey to find a safe and practical way forward, for the review and consideration of our respective governments,” said Margy Osmond, chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) and one of the group’s co-chairs.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Safe Border Group has been working on a blueprint to present to both governments over the past fortnight, and is looking to table this proposal formally in early June.
“Not surprisingly, New Zealand tops the list of countries people would like to visit and they consider it no more risky than travelling interstate,” said Osmond.
However, certain high-profile advocates of the trans-Tasman bubble have individually lobbied for travel between the countries to reopen even sooner.
In a letter written to Scott Morrison this week, Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron urged the PM to consider allowing daily flights between the national capital and Wellington ahead of this schedule, calling the cities “two of the most COVID-safe jurisdictions in the world.”
“Canberra has been free from new COVID-19 cases for 23 days and Wellington has been free of new COVID-19 cases more than for 30 days,” wrote Byron, according to The Australian.
“Both Wellington and Canberra Airports are ready for the commencement of these services now.”
While the plan hinges on customers’ willingness to travel, a survey commissioned by the TTF stated that almost three in five Australians would consider travelling to New Zealand in the next six months.
Australians travelling to New Zealand make up nearly half of international visitors, while Kiwis account for 15 per cent of those holidaying in Australia.