Mike's Minute: The world is moving on, and we're at risk of being left behind

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Mar 2021, 9:59AM

Mike's Minute: The world is moving on, and we're at risk of being left behind

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Mar 2021, 9:59AM

Surely, even most conservative can see what the world is going to be doing in a few short months.

Qantas has started their digital app travel passport trial, and British Airways is calling for unfettered travel for vaccinated punters.

President Joe Biden has every adult offered a jab by May and life back to close to normal by July, Britain is well into their vaccination campaign, and everyone from Spain, Greece, to Portugal are falling over themselves to open the borders to vaccinated travellers.

Australia is looking to open a bubble with Singapore in July, and we haven't even got to the Chinese, the Israelis, or anyone else advancing down the path to normality.

All of those preclude us from taking part. July is when we think we still start our vaccine programme for the bulk of the population. July. And that doesn’t take into account delays in supply, and delays in rollout.

The argument has been, we don’t have Covid, so we didn’t need to hurry. Will they still be able to roll that argument out in September when Brits are back from their summer holidays and none of them came here? Or the Americans or the Australians?

The moment people can travel, they will. This is the critical bit for this country and its recovery, we need them here.

This is what we did as a country before we locked the place up. We grow stuff to feed people and invite people to stay and spend money. The latter and lack of it is now crippling us. And it's crippling specific areas like Central Otago, and it's crippling our balance sheet.

The GDP figures out this week will confirm what a miserable quarter the last part of last year was, and this year so far won't be any better. Most likely it will be worse, and it will be worse because of what Andrew Kelleher has quite rightly called the "lost summer of tourism."

Guess what? There are most lost seasons coming. At some point being locked away will dawn people as dangerous.

It's already dawned on the events industry, the tourist industry, and the business industry as they opened, then shut, then opened, then shut, or shut permanently or mothballed.

The calls for clarity on a timeline have resulted in nothing. But we have done it against a world struggling, and we've been able to feel proud if not a little bit smug.

But that’s ending, and it's ending in front of our eyes. Too many people all over the world are a combination of desperate and aspirational, and they're moving forward and on, whether we are with them or not.

Is it honestly still the best response? Especially when the bubbles are up, the planes are flying, the holidays are being had, the jabs are in arms, and we in May, June, and July and August are still waiting.