May 12, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

From one minute to midnight on July 31, New Zealand will fully reopen its international border to all international travellers.

Cruise ships will also be permitted to dock in New Zealand ports from the same time.

Announcing the changes yesterday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also said pre-departure COVID testing would likely be abolished by the time the country’s international border fully reopens.

New Zealand’s border is currently open to Australia and travellers from 60 other visa waiver countries. Quarantine upon arrival is no longer a requirement but travellers do need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

New Zealand’s major business events association Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) welcomed yesterday’s announcements.

“New Zealand is really starting to gear up for the future and the announcements today help support this. We will have the infrastructure, the talent and the connections which will make the decision easy to win international conference and incentive travel business,” said BEIA chief executive Lisa Hopkins.

“We are pleased the Prime Minister has said she is confident that pre-departure testing will be removed by 31 July, as this will be the last piece in the puzzle for us,” she says.

“While New Zealand is still considered to be a highly desirable destination, customers are telling us they hope the Government will dispense with testing soon, as Australia and Singapore have done.”

Also announced yesterday, the New Zealand Government will make it cheaper for the tourism and hospitality industries to hire overseas workers, with the wage requirements dropped to $25 per hour for those coming to New Zealand with an Accredited Employer Work Visa.

“The decision to lower median wage levels for visa-holding staff is much-needed news for tourism and hospitality businesses struggling with the ongoing issue of finding staff and broadens the opportunity to recruit from offshore markets,” said Hopkins.

“The opening of New Zealand’s maritime border will have a positive impact for business events too.

“Cruise ships, particularly luxury ships, do provide options for the incentive market, but also reinvigorate ports of call with the injection of people and activity.

“Today’s announcement is the result of mahi (work) undertaken by many across the events, tourism, cruise, and hospitality sectors with support from Minister Stuart Nash.

“It is a good news day,” said Hopkins.