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New Zealand welcomes back first cruise liner since COVID hit

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) New Zealand on Friday welcomed the initial cruise ship to come back because the coronavirus pandemic began, signaling a long-sought go back to normalcy for the nations tourism industry.

New Zealand closed its borders in early 2020 since it sought initially to get rid of COVID-19 entirely and later to regulate its spread. Even though country reopened its borders to most tourists arriving by plane in-may, it wasnt until fourteen days ago that it lifted all remaining restrictions, including those on maritime arrivals.

Many in the cruise industry question why it took such a long time.

The finish of restrictions allowed Carnival Australias Pacific Explorer cruise liner to dock in Auckland with about 2,000 passengers and crew Friday morning within a 12-day return visit to Fiji that left from Sydney.

Amazing, isnt it? Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said within an interview with The Associated Press. Its another part of the reopening of our borders and a step nearer to resuming business as usual.

Nash said it could take the time for international tourist numbers and revenue to come back with their pre-pandemic levels, once the industry accounted for approximately 20% of New Zealands foreign income and much more than 5% of GDP.

I believe theres been lots of people in the tourism sector who’ve done it hard during the last 2 yrs, Nash said. But weve always taken a strategy where we have to make sure that we obtain the health response right. Because if we dont, we realize the results are dire.

Nobody is pleased with the return of tourists. A sailboat carrying protesters upset concerning the industrys effect on the surroundings followed the Pacific Explorer in to the harbor Friday, before passengers were greeted having an Indigenous Mori welcome and a trip by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Nash said the pause in tourism had given the country an opportunity to reset its priorities. Among those was to follow what he referred to as wealthier top quality tourists who stay longer and also have a story to inform if they returned home.

We have been not targeting the people which come over and set up on Facebook, Hey, travel around New Zealand on $10 each day living on 2-minute noodles, Nash said.

He said another goal was to go from the perception that folks working in the would be at the mercy of extended hours and low wages, also to make it a far more rewarding and aspirational career.

Nash said that with flight tickets more costly and travelers more risk-averse than prior to the pandemic, tourism numbers could remain subdued for some time, but he thought the would eventually create a strong comeback.

I see markets just like the United States being truly a important market for New Zealand, he said. Theres been $2 trillion saved in the us in addition to that which could have been saved if it hadnt been for COVID. So, theres a small amount of money going swimming.

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