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New Zealand to welcome back all tourists by July-end

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New Zealand to welcome back all tourists by July-end

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New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday announced that the country will reopen its international borders to all tourists from July 31. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 3 million tourists visited New Zealand every year. This accounted for 20 percent of its foreign income.

New Zealand to welcome back all tourists by July-end
Indians will soon be able to visit New Zealand after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday virtually announced that the country will open its borders for tourists from all countries by July-end.
"Today I can announce that New Zealand fully reopens to the world by July 31, completing our reconnecting work two months ahead of schedule," Ardern said. The New Zealand government had earlier said it would reopen the country's border more fully in October.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 3 million tourists would visit New Zealand each year. This accounted for 20 percent of the country's foreign income and over 5 percent of the overall economy.  New Zealand is known for its picturesque landscape and its indigenous Maori culture.
The country has also attracted fans of the The Lord of The Rings and the Hobbit franchises. The country's mountain ranges, green, undulating fields and scenic rivers were the perfect setting for the movies. Hobbiton — the real Hobbit village in Matamata, New Zealand — was first built as a set. However, it was later opened for tourists and has been an exciting addition to the list of places to visit in the country, ever since.
The picturesque road along Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. New Zealand (Image courtesy: Shutterstock)
Business leaders and tourism representatives welcomed Ardern's announcement.  "After two years of hardship, hundreds of Kiwi ship suppliers and tourism operators can start rebuilding their businesses back," said Debbie Summers, the chairperson of the New Zealand Cruise Association.
New Zealand has been reopening its borders at a slower pace, first to Australians last month and later to tourists from Britain, US and over 50 other nations, earlier this month. Ardern's Wednesday announcement will allow tourists from India and China, among other countries, to visit from July 31.
The New Zealand government also said it planned to end the requirement for people to get pre-departure tests for COVID-19 by July-end.
New Zealand is also known for its indigenous Maori culture. (Image courtesy: Shutterstock)
Ardern was supposed to make Wednesday's announcement in person at a business lunch in Auckland. However, she spoke virtually from her Wellington residence, where she is under isolation after her fiance Clarke Gayford tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. Ardern has tested negative and said she wasn't experiencing any symptoms. It is mandatory for household contacts of infected patients to isolate for seven days in New Zealand.
New Zealand had closed its borders when the pandemic first hit in March 2020. The country was able to get its vaccination rates up, eliminate several outbreaks of the virus and also managed to keep its COVID-19 death toll far below many of the other developed countries.
According to New Zealand's Health Ministry website, the country has administered 4,027,185 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to those aged 12 years and above, so far. Of them, 3,979,124 are fully vaccinated. The country has a population of over 5 million people. The country has also recorded 855 confirmed COVID-19 deaths according to the website.
However, as the pandemic has continued to remain present, New Zealand's border measures increasingly appeared to be outdated as other nations across the globe have reopened theirs.
Hobbiton, the real Hobbit village in Matamata, New Zealand (Image courtesy: Shutterstock)
Ardern on Wednesday also said that the new immigration regulations will make it easier for skilled workers to enter the country from July, with 56 sought-after professions included in the new green list. The professions include nurses, doctors, engineers, teachers, plumbers and tech workers.
"This package is designed to address the urgent skills shortages created by COVID-19 while also putting our immigration settings on a better and more sustainable footing," she said.
The New Zealand Prime Minister had recently visited Singapore and Japan and has an upcoming trip planned for the US.
With inputs from AP
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