The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) of New Zealand has pledged its support for passport-free travel between Australia and New Zealand.
Responding to a call by New Zealand’s Internal Affairs Minister, Peter Dunne, to scrap the need for passports for citizens of the two countries taking trans-Tasman trips, the TIA said the move would “boost travel both ways”.
“We support… Peter Dunne’s call today for passport-free travel between the Anzac partners,” said TIA chief executive, Chris Roberts. “Australia is currently New Zealand tourism’s largest visitor market, with 1.27 million arrivals in the year ending March 2015, worth around NZ$2.1 billion (US$1.6bn) annually.
“We know that reducing barriers to travel would stimulate demand and encourage more Australians to view New Zealand as a domestic holiday destination which they may visit multiple times.
“New Zealanders are also an important visitor market for Australia, with 1.1m Kiwis crossing the Tasman in the year ending March,” he added.
Joint research released earlier this year by TIA and the Australia Tourism & Transport Forum showed that more sports fans would cross the Tasman to watch big matches if travel was made cheaper and faster.
“Stepping off a trans-Tasman flight should feel like stepping off a domestic one,” asserted Roberts. “We are out of step with other nations which consider themselves close friends. The EU offers passport-free travel for around 26 countries and there are numerous other country blocs around the world with passport free travel.”
A free travel zone was in force from 1973 to the early 1980s, allowing passport-free trans-Tasman travel for New Zealanders, Australians and Commonwealth citizens. This was ended in 1981 following some high profile drug smuggling cases, but Roberts believes that new technology and profiling techniques would negate this risk.
“In 2015, it is time to celebrate 100 years of Anzac friendship, more than 30 years of free trade and encourage greater freedom of travel between Australia and New Zealand,” he concluded.