Finally see some headway on New Zealand’s challenge to start re-engaging with the world.
On face value, it may strike you as contradictory and confusing to be agitating for air bridges with the world for leisure travel, while at the same time arguing for stringent security at our border and around our MIQ facilities.
But that’s exactly the dual challenge New Zealand has to man up to.
We are in the most invidious position in the world with our Covid status. And we must jealously guard that position with a rigorous security posture to ensure all new Covid cases are contained within our MIQ facilities. But we have to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time and open up to the world, with best-practise confidence.
Prime Minister Ardern has finally caught up with Prime Minister Puna and the Cook Islands bubble looks closer to becoming a reality. A timeline is now being worked on. The resumption of leisure travel back to the covid-free Cooks will revive their shattered economy.
There are obvious geopolitical reasons why we must reach out to the Cooks as well. Tourism generates 70 per cent of their GDP.
As their deputy Prime Minister told me yesterday, tourism is so valuable to the Cooks, it’s the equivalent of 50 million visitors spending money in New Zealand. May these baby steps help expedite similar air bridges to Covid-free Aussie states, like South Australia and Tasmania.
Safe, smart quarantine-free travel, separated from the MIQ arrivals flocking home from far-flung places. A reliable instant Covid detection test would certainly help the cause. And I hope that’s not far away. But we’ve got to start re-engaging with the world – and the Cooks is a quick and easy win.