New Zealand reopens borders after two years of closure

After over two years of border closure, New Zealand has finally opened its borders to citizens outside the country and foreigners willing to come to the country. The Oceania nation closed its borders in March 2020 for fears of the Covid-19 pandemic and has managed to sustain the border closure for over two years. 

In February, New Zealand opened its borders to citizens and residents outside the country, and the restrictions have been gradually eased since then. With the latest development, foreigners with student visas and those applying to visit New Zealand will now get access once they meet the requirements. The lifting of the restrictions also means the freedom for cruise ships and foreign recreational yachts to enter the country.

“It’s been a staged and cautious process on our part since February as we, alongside the rest of the world, continue to manage a very live global pandemic while keeping our people safe,” prime minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday during a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland. 

“But keeping people safe extends to incomes and wellbeing too,” she added.

Minister of Tourism, Stuart Nash, said the border reopening and the return of yachts would boost the tourism industry.

“Most cruise visits are during the warmer months of October to April, and summer is our bumper tourism season overall. That means it will be full steam ahead for the industry,” Nash said. 

The tourism industry was the most hit by the border restrictions. Over 75,000 people lost their jobs in the industry within the over two-year period, and revenue generated from the sector fell significantly. Tourism contributes to about 5.5% of the country’s GDP. This figure fell to less than 3% during the pandemic. 

With the decision to reopen the border, the country would expect to improve its revenue generation and create more jobs, especially as the warmer periods are approaching.

Another sector that would receive a boost with the new development is the educational sector. Foreign students contribute significantly to the growth of the New Zealand economy. For the past two years, students from other countries have been restricted from entering the country. Most foreigners willing to study in the Country had their studies conducted online during this period. No doubt, their absence adversely affected the country’s economy.  Universities and other schools are looking forward to cashing out from the reopening of borders.

Neighboring countries like Australia will also benefit from the reopening of the borders. Before the outbreak of the Coronavirus, there has been free movement between Australia and New Zealand since the 1920s. 

For the past two years, the strict border restrictions made movement between the two countries difficult. With the reopening of the borders, countries bordering New Zealand will also experience a boost in their financial activities. 

Despite the border reopening, visits to the country are not without scrutiny. Visitors still need to be vaccinated against COVID and must take two COVID tests after they arrive in the country. Interestingly, visitors do not need quarantine after arriving in the country.