The Gold Coast is expected to be a major winner following confirmation a trans-Tasman travel bubble will commence in less than a fortnight.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday that unrestricted travel across the ditch would be allowed from April 19.
Travellers will have to stick to some rules and systems will be put in place in case of an outbreak on either side of the Tasman.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
But the news has been warmly welcomed by tourism operators on the Gold Coast that have been struggling without international visitors.
Prior to the pandemic, New Zealand was the Gold Coast’s biggest market with around 520,000 passengers flying between here and New Zealand each year.
The Gold Coast is also home to one of Australia’s biggest ex-pat Kiwi populations with around 60,000 New Zealanders living on the Gold Coast.
Mayor Tom Tate says it’s great news for tourism and the New Zealanders who call the Gold Coast home.
“Our domestic (market) has been strong with that support but to add the New Zealand market, the number one market straight up and have that safe bubble, that’s a huge uplift,” Mayor Tate said.
“Primarily, the population on the Gold Coast for Kiwis is quite high and I look forward so that their families can be reunited.”
Gold Coast Airport says they are thrilled to be able to welcome back international visitors.
“The Gold Coast is one of the first destinations Kiwis want to come and visit. These services are sure to be busy in both directions,” Queensland Airports CEO Chris Mills said.
“We saw some emotional scenes at the airport when domestic borders re-opened, and we are likely to see a repeat of this when trans-Tasman flights recommence. It has been a challenging time for many families and friends, who have been separated for an extended period.”
Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan says it’s another big step forward in the Gold Coast’s recovery.
“New Zealand is a crucial market for the Gold Coast. We know New Zealanders can’t wait to come back to the Gold Coast and they will be welcomed with open arms,” Ms O’Callaghan said.
Airlines have wasted no time putting flights between the Gold Coast and New Zealand on sale while Qantas has announced it will dip its toe into the Gold Coast’s overseas market.
The Flying Kangaroo will launch its first ever international service from the Gold Coast with daily flights to Auckland.
Jetstar also plans to have daily return flights to Auckland while Air New Zealand will start with six flights a week between the Gold Coast and Auckland.
Mr Mills says the start of direct Qantas flights is another massive boost that will bring an extra 63,000 passengers to the Gold Coast and pump $50 million into the local economy.
“These flights will see us immediately reach pre-COVID-19 capacity levels between the Gold Coast and Auckland, with Jetstar and Air New Zealand also supporting this route.
“We know flights between the Gold Coast and New Zealand will be well supported and now there will be even more flights for passengers to choose from.”
Virgin Australia will not be recommending trans-Tasman flights anytime soon as it looks to focus on its domestic operations.