When the World goes back to normal

when we welcome tourists again

Which ending do you prefer? The romantic, the twist, or the expected? It feels like we are all characters in a book or movie right now. And we don’t know the ending – New Zealand desperately needs tourists and skilled workers, but vaccination rollouts are only just beginning in much of the world. Will we be ready when the world returns to normal?

Current unemployment and tourism statistics

Let’s take a quick look at how New Zealand’s economy has been impacted:

  • In 2019, international tourism was worth $16b to the New Zealand economy, which translates to about 5.8% of GDP. By contrast, Kiwi’s only spent $6.2b on holidays abroad, so increased domestic tourism isn’t enough to fill the hole left by international tourists.
Vaccine implications

The rollout of vaccines could lead to a surge in tourism in New Zealand, perhaps even surpassing pre-pandemic levels. People will be eager to make up for long periods of lockdown and New Zealand has had a lot of good publicity recently.

But big questions remain about how soon international tourism will be back:

  • While some countries have already made great progress – nearly a third of Israelis have had the vaccination – many have barely gotten started. Europe is facing much publicised delays to its rollout. Much of Africa and Asia do not have sufficient vaccine supplies committed.
  • People’s willingness to get vaccinated seems likely to vary widely by country – an IPSOS World Economic Forum survey found that 80% of people in China (our largest tourism market) intend to get it. 75% of people in Australia (our second-largest tourism market) intend to, while only 43% and 40% intend to in Russia and France, respectively.
  • Protocols for recognising travelers’ vaccinations are still unclear. For example, will New Zealand allow tourists into the country that have Chinese and Russian approved vaccinations, if those vaccinations are not approved by our own regulators?
Will Nelson businesses be ready?

When those of us in Nelson have the option of the vaccination, I wonder what the general attitudes will be? How will it affect your business’s ability to make the most of the opportunities, such as recruiting new staff members from overseas, receiving overseas visitors, or sending staff on overseas work trips? How certain can we be that the days of outbreaks and lockdowns are numbered? These are important questions.

While returning to normal could take many years, the milestone of having freely available Covid-19 vaccinations and open borders is an important one. Be prepared to have conversations around Covid-19 vaccinations and consider the opportunities that arise as travel and tourism restart.

Chantell Bramley


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