It’s D-day for bubbles.
Is it really? Or will it be a day where there is an announcement about a future announcement as is the Governments favoured method of operation?
If they offer not one concrete proposal or date or destination there will be considerable anger amongst the tourism industry and opponents of the government at large.
This bubble debate has been annoying as it seems to have been going on forever - which it has.
Weeks after we first emerged from lockdown, there were people advocating for an opening of our borders. With 20/20 hindsight we realise now how misguided those calls were. In June and July last year we had no idea about just how widespread and rampant the pandemic was going to be.
But the calls were understandable because the impacts on the tourism, hospitality and educational sectors have been so dramatic and specific.
Since then the issue has raised it’s head each month, only to be submerged under another break out of infection, governmental pussy footing or a political power play by Australia.
Make no mistake the travel bubble has been used by Australia as a political pawn a number of times. Angered by our anger at their Kiwi deportation policy and other issues, the Aussies have broken off talks a number of times.
They are perfectly aware that this bubble is more important to us than them. Their economy is not hostage to tourism and education in the way that ours is. We need Aussies to come skiing in Queenstown this winter while they can do without a Kiwi shopping trip to David Jones in Melbourne.
But now with nine months under our belt and both Australia and New Zealand approaching some stability and expertise about handling outbreaks, it’s time for movement. Five weeks since a community case in Melbourne, you’d think it would not be outside the governments parameters to open up in three weeks time. That's two months of infection cycles done and dusted.
A simple step would be to allow travel bubbles with Covid free islands to allow seasonal workers in to help horticulture.
But a word of warning. Throughout our bubble debates people claim that billions of dollars would resume it’s flow into our economy, but that presumes that we will return to our previous levels of tourism and international students. And I’m not sure if that demand exists. Well, certainly not to the level before the pandemic.
A return airfare to Australia is more than twice what it was bin the days of cheap travel we enjoyed in 2019.
We need the bubble as a first step to normality. The government needs to allow a bubble because their caution is becoming increasingly toxic to their popularity.