February 3, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

New Zealand’s border reopening plans, outlined today, will keep the majority of business events visitors away for the foreseeable future, with a 10-day self-isolation requirement for all international arrivals to remain in place indefinitely.

Key industry association Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) says the isolation requirement was a barrier for international visitation.

“Currently $150 million worth of business events are at risk because of international border settings,” says BEIA Chief Executive Lisa Hopkins.

“The reality is a business visitor will not isolate in a hotel for seven to 10 days if they are expected to attend a three-day conference. The sector will now be fielding cancellations and postponements from Australia.

“The sooner the government can announce opening to Australian manuhiri without isolation, the sooner our sector can begin to recover.

“We do take some optimism from the government’s decision to continue to review these restrictions. However, given planning is required for business events, the sooner we know borders can open without isolation, the better,” she said.

Most travellers from Australia – aside from those with specific visas, working holiday makers, students and skilled workers who will be allowed in earlier – will be able to enter New Zealand “no later” than July, when travel for fully vaccinated citizens of visa waiver countries as well as fully vaccinated arrivals from Australia will be permitted.

“I want to place strong emphasis on this being the latest we expect this to begin,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at today’s press conference announcing the border reopening stages.

“There is a high likelihood of this date coming forward as we progress through the next stage of the pandemic.”

According to today’s plan, the final phase of New Zealand’s border reopening will take place in October – with the isolation requirement still in place – at which point all visa categories will be cleared for entry.

“While the Prime Minister’s speech today acknowledged the exemplary work of other industries throughout the pandemic, it was disappointing it did not recognise what was once New Zealand’s largest export earner,” says Hopkins.

“The impact the pandemic has had on business events, major events, cruise, tourism, and hospitality has been extreme. And while we now look forward to a future with greater optimism, it will take some time to work through the past.”