New Zealand reopens its doors for tourists for first time in over two years
New Zealand on Monday welcomed tourists from the United States, Canada, Japan, and over 50 other countries for the first time since the country went into a strict COVID-induced lockdown more than two years ago.
The country, which is known for its breathtaking scenery and adventure tourism, attracted roughly 3 million tourists each year before the pandemic hit. The numbers accounted for 20% of New Zealand's foreign income and more than 5% of the overall economy.
However, international tourism came to a standstill in early 2020, when Auckland imposed some of the world's toughest border restrictions. The restrictions were eased after the spread of omicron when more than 80% of New Zealand's 5 million population was vaccinated.
"Today is a day to celebrate, and is a big moment in our reconnection with the world," said Tourism Minister Stuart Nash, as the borders reopened to about 60 visa-waiver countries. All incoming tourists will need to be vaccinated and test themselves before and after arrival.
Travelers from India, China and other non-waiver countries are still not allowed to enter.