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INTERVIEW: Tourism NZ GM - Australia Andrew Waddel

Here, we talk to Tourism New Zealand General Manager - Australia ANDREW WADDEL about the possible Trans-Tasman bubble, what tourism will look like moving forward and the importance of travel agents to NZ tourism's recovery.


Are you optimistic about the opening of a trans-Tasman travel bubble?

We’re extremely hopeful about the potential for a trans-Tasman travel zone. It would have a significant positive impact should it be able to go ahead safely for both countries.

Not only would it help kick-start tourism, but it’d also have a positive impact on trade and transport sectors and enable families and friends to reunite.


Do you have an update on when this might occur?

We’ll be updated once governments agree it’s safe to travel. We don’t have ‘inside information’ or proprietary knowledge about assumptions on when the trans-Tasman travel zone will open.


Logistically, what needs to be sorted out before it can happen?

The first step for both countries is to ignite domestic travel and both Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Australia have a significant role to play in their respective countries. 


With momentum and trust in local travel, it is logical Kiwis and Aussies will then be ‘first to fly’ internationally.


How do you see the recovery of travel happening?

Before COVID-19, Australians made up almost 40 per cent of international arrivals to New Zealand. In total visitor spend, Australians contribute $NZ2.7b to the New Zealand economy, while Kiwis contribute $AU2.6b in visitor spend to Australia. 

A domestic tourism recovery will come first and this will be key for economic recovery in both Australia and New Zealand. Excitingly, for the first time in 30 years our remit has expanded to now include domestic tourism.



What would you say to Aussies thinking about travelling to NZ?

With visitors likely to be restricted to only Kiwis and Aussies, it’s a perfect opportunity to go somewhere you’ve never been. The revived appreciation for the outdoors and life’s simple pleasures means a New Zealand road trip is the best way to experience our people and place.


How important will agents be in getting your message out there?

Travel agents will be integral in inspiring Australians to plan and book a New Zealand holiday when border restrictions lift. We know a large proportion of Australians rely on the expertise of agents to book their New Zealand holiday and this advocacy is invaluable to us. 


Through this time, we’ve prioritised connecting with our agents across Australia to ensure we’re supporting them and they’re able to recommence selling destination New Zealand when the time comes. 


Industry webinars, a newly launched agent Facebook group and our refreshed corporate website are a few of the actions we’ve taken to keep our whanau (family) of agents informed and connected.


Are there any positives at all that can be taken from recent events?

Tourism in New Zealand is likely to look very different to what it once was – this pause has presented an opportunity to reshape the sector and ensure it enriches our people and place for future generations. 

This means tourism will enrich New Zealand not only economically, but socially and environmentally for years to come.


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Written by: Andrew Waddel as told to Jon Underwood
Published: 20 July 2020

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