NEW ZEALAND’S main business events association has welcomed the country’s phased reopening of borders to vaccinated travellers.
Lisa Hopkins, chief executive of Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA), said the announcement to allow the return of Australian visitors from April 12 and all other visa-waiver holders on May 1 was a boost of confidence for the industry.
“This is the message our international customers needed to hear. We anticipate between 50 to 60 business events with international attendees will now be able to proceed with confidence this year, bringing vital export revenue and cash flow back to the sector,” Hopkins said.
She added that there was still concerns to be tackled despite the prospect of New Zealand reopening to international travel including the threat of Omicron.
“As we see it, the mahi (work) isn’t finished. There are a couple of critical issues, vital to our sector, which still need to be addressed,” Hopkins said.
“The first is the need for the government to indicate when we can expect a shift in the Covid Protection Framework from Red to Green. We understand that can’t happen right now in the midst of the Omicron peak, but we are keen to ensure this is uppermost in the government’s thinking.”
“The second is the process for attendees and visitors to enter the country. This needs to be refined, as currently, it is cumbersome and not fit for purpose.
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“We join with other sectors, such as Hospitality New Zealand, to call for the elimination of Vaccine Passes soon. They have done their job brilliantly, but now, with the majority of New Zealanders vaccinated and fully vaccinated travellers only allowed into the country, passes will become redundant.
“This is a moment for reflection on a tumultuous two years, and celebration for everyone in the events, tourism, accommodation, travel and hospitality sectors who we have worked alongside,” she said.
“The desire to return to face-to-face events is clear, and already we are hearing conversations with future international business customers have begun. The business events sector can now begin its recovery as we start the journey to rebuild, re-hire and re-energise our industry.”