With New Zealand and the rest of the world slowly opening up, many of us have started thinking of our next overseas holiday. However, in contrast, the travel industry is also seeing those who have grown so accustomed to a “new normal” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020, that travelling has become a foreign concept to them.
Travel Director of YOU Travel Whitianga, Monett Johnson, has seen first-hand this disparity in the local community. “We have a huge number of customers who are extremely positive about being able to travel again and can’t wait to hop on a plane to another country, then we have those who are also extremely cautious,” she says. “Although, with visitors from visa waiver countries and those already holding a valid visitor’s visa now being able to come to New Zealand on condition of self-testing for COVID-19 on arrival, people’s anxiety towards overseas travel may ease. Our expectation is that if New Zealand can have visitors safely entering the country, the perception will take hold that it should be relatively safe for Kiwis to travel internationally too.”
Despite Kiwis being allowed to fly internationally, New Zealand’s maritime borders are yet to open. Cruise ships can still only operate within the country’s waters and no further. That is in stark contrast to cruise lines across the globe steaming ahead, with cruises often selling out on the day tickets become available. “We are seeing people flocking to cruises, especially to places such as Australia, many of which are completely booked out to 2024,” says Monett. “Not only is New Zealand’s cruise industry affected by the current maritime restrictions, but several businesses that rely on the industry are impacted. Fortunately, several of the New Zealand-based cruise lines have adapted for the time being by offering high quality cruises around the country to truly showcase the beauty we live in.”
Monett points out that there are many opportunities for those who are not yet feeling confident enough to travel abroad to check out holiday options closer to home. “We have many opportunities popping up for those who don’t want to venture too far afield,” she says. “For instance, we have a seven-day Norfolk Island tour coming up as well as several other holiday packages, the closest being right here in Mercury Bay. We can quite literally organise the holiday of your dreams in your backyard.”
Among those of YOU Travel Whitianga’s customers who are positive about being able to travel again, Monett says popular destinations that have already been heavily booked are Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Fiji, Thailand and Europe. “Like I said, many people are just thrilled to explore the world again and are not overly concerned,” she says. “They are using a professional travel agent, though, who can ensure no hiccups occur with issues like travel insurance and hidden costs. Our customers are also willing to pay to guarantee their health and safety are well looked after from the moment their feet leave New Zealand until when they land back in the country.
“Besides COVID-19 related issues, travel can be disrupted by other factors such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, which could impact flight schedules. This is where a travel agent can be of huge value by helping to get tickets reinstated and reissued.
“We all have experienced a difficult last few years, from everyday life to keeping our businesses afloat. I definitely feel it is about time for everyone to get out and enjoy what’s out there. Come in and tell us about your holiday fantasies and we can craft it into a reality, even if it is just the town over.”
Pictured: Monett Johnson, the travel director of YOU Travel Whitianga.