A seven-day lockdown in the Australian state of Victoria is the biggest disruption to the trans-Tasman bubble to date but it shouldn't have much of an impact on tourism between the two countries, industry experts say.
On Tuesday quarantine-free travel from Victoria to New Zealand was paused for 72 hours as a result of a Covid-19 flare up in Melbourne.
The outbreak has since grown to 26 cases prompting Australian authorities to send Victoria into a seven-day "circuit breaker" lockdown from midnight Thursday, and New Zealand authorities imposing a seven-day extension to the current travel pause.
Air New Zealand’s website shows 24 flights to and from Melbourne were cancelled between Tuesday and Friday this week. Jetstar and Qantas have also cancelled multiple flights between Melbourne and New Zealand, and it could be expected many more cancellations from the airlines will follow.
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Air New Zealand's website said it was currently awaiting advise from the New Zealand Government and more details would be shared in due course.
Its website said because the suspension period was unknown for travel from Melbourne it recommended waiting until further information was made available before rebooking.
House of Travel chief operating officer Brent Thomas said it was too early to tell what the response would be from New Zealand travellers.
Past travel pauses with New South Wales and Western Australia had “minimal impact” to date, he said.
"In fact quite the opposite. We've actually seen quite a good build of bookings coming through over the last few weeks," Thomas said.
However, he noted that the Melbourne lockdown was longer than any other since the bubble opened.
Despite the disruptions there had been confidence from people booking to Australia, he said.
"People understand that these pauses may happen from time to time."
At this time of year most people booking holidays to Australia weren’t heading into Victoria, they were seeking warmer weather in the northern parts of Australia, he said.
Bookings from Melbourne into New Zealand could slow in the short term, but he hoped the lockdown wouldn't drag on too long and impact bookings for New Zealand's upcoming ski season.
Infections in Victoria are believed to date back to May 11 , and New Zealand's Ministry of Health is working to contact travellers who arrived in New Zealand from Melbourne in the past two weeks.
More than 10,000 people had already been emailed as part of the effort, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Wednesday.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said the Melbourne lockdown was the most serious disruption to the travel bubble to date.
Disruptions, while unwanted, were always expected, he said.
"Every would be traveller will make their own judgement about the risk they’re willing to take in terms of their travel being potentially disrupted," Roberts said.
Key for New Zealand was having a successful ski season, starting with the Australian school holidays kicking off in early July, he said.
"The numbers travelling right now are not that significant and there are not many holidaymakers on those trans-Tasman flights at the moment."
They were mostly people visiting friends and relatives, as well as business travellers, he said.
"But that all changes come the start of July, and we've got our fingers crossed that period is not disrupted."
The Victoria lockdown shouldn't deter Australians visiting New Zealand from other states, he said.
"Beyond Victoria it shouldn't impact arrivals from other Australian states."
To date Australians had been more willing to take advantage of the trans-Tasman bubble than New Zealand."
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