If successful, the Trans-Tasman bubble can be used as the model for future travel bubbles between other countries. It is an exciting step.
The first quarantine free flights between Australia and New Zealand landed on the 20th of April. News agencies in both countries reported joyous family reunions, many excited travelers, and gestures of welcome from each country.
The Trans-Tasman bubble is only the second of its kind in the world since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Taiwan recently opened a travel bubble with Palau, a nearby island, who also have very low covid cases.
Many have been waiting patiently for travel to open up between the two countries since New Zealand’s border was closed last march. Those coming in had to undergo a two-week isolation period and testing before being allowed out into the public, a very similar quarantine system is in place for those coming into Australia.
With the new travel bubble those going between the two countries (with the exception of those who have recently come from another country), can now enter without the need for a quarantine period, which generally had to be paid for by individual travelers. This will have a major impact on tourism for both countries.
Governments around the world have praised both Australia and New Zealand’s Covid responses, and the fact they are now living life almost as normal. Both have very few cases getting out into the community, and a low death toll from the virus. They acted early and made strong decisions to protect their populations and those decisions are now paying off.
How Does the Travel Bubble Impact Australia and New Zealand?
The biggest impact will be for the tourism sector. Over the last year they have suffered significantly, more than many other sectors, due to the pandemic and border restrictions.
Visitors from Australia make up most of the travelers into New Zealand, for tourism, business, and to see friends and family. There are close ties between the two neighboring pacific countries, with residents of both being able to live and work in either country. For Australia, New Zealand makes up the second largest portion of their yearly visitors, following closely behind China. Both economies will benefit hugely from this arrangement.
On top of the boost for tourism, businesses that work across both countries benefit from being able to fly freely and quickly between the two, without the delay of a two week hotel isolation period.
Families that are spread across both nations will be excited to be reunited again as well. Many Australians and New Zealanders made yearly trips across to see family on the other side.
How Does the Travel Bubble Impact the World?
The rest of the world is looking on with interest to see how the arrangement works out. Hoping that similar deals can soon be had between neighboring countries, in similar Covid situations to their own. Governments will be learning from policies created by Australia and New Zealand to manage risks, and handle any new outbreaks while travel is open.
There is of course a risk that borders will temporarily close or cities will be placed on local lockdowns over the next while, however plans are in place to work through those things when they happen. Borders may not need to be closed again, it could simply mean that people need to undergo extra testing, or isolate at home/in a hotel upon arrival after being in a city suffering from a local outbreak.
Some travelers may be expected to stay in place during a lockdown period before being able to fly home. This could pose a challenge for insurance companies offering cover for coronavirus related risks, and for personal finances. So far this has not stopped bookings skyrocketing for flights between the two countries.
Australia is currently in talks with Singapore, who also has very low community case numbers, and similar protection procedures in place as Australia and New Zealand. This could be the next bubble, with hopes that other countries will soon get their case numbers under control, through the vaccination program and other precautions.
The world can learn a lot from the Trans-Tasman travel bubble, and methods used in Australia and New Zealand to contain and control the virus. We all hold hopes for quarantine free travel to return worldwide, over the coming year or so. As various vaccination programs roll out, and case numbers drop, those hopes will come to fruition.
If successful, the Trans-Tasman bubble can be used as the model for future travel bubbles between other countries. It is an exciting step forward for the entire world.