The World Forum - May 20th, 2024


New Zealand welcomes back international tourists as pandemic rules eased


New Zealand has begun welcoming back tourists from Britain, the US, Canada, Japan and more than 50 other countries for the first time in more than two years after dropping most of its remaining pandemic border restrictions.

The country has long been renowned for its breath-taking scenery and adventure tourism offerings such as bungy jumping and skiing.

Before the spread of Covid-19, more than three million tourists visited each year, accounting for 20pc of New Zealand’s foreign income and more than 5pc of the overall economy.

But international tourism stopped altogether in early 2020 after New Zealand imposed some of the world’s toughest border restrictions.

The border rules remained in place as the government at first pursued an elimination strategy and then tried to tightly control the spread of the virus.

The spread of Omicron and vaccinations of more than 80pc of New Zealand’s five million population prompted the gradual easing of restrictions.

New Zealand reopened to tourists from Australia three weeks ago and on Monday to about 60 visa-waiver countries, including much of Europe. Most tourists from India, China and other non-waiver countries are still not allowed to enter.

Tourists will need to be vaccinated and to test themselves for the virus after arriving.