Tears and chocolate as New Zealand opens its borders to 60 more countries – Times of India


WELLINGTON: New Zealand welcomed thousands of travelers from around the world on Wednesday as the country opened its borders to visitors from about 60 countries for the first time since Covid-19 in early 2020, including the United States, Britain and Singapore.
Maori cultural performers sang songs at the arrivals hall in Auckland, and travelers were presented with popular, locally-made chocolate bars as the first flights arrived from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Friends and family hugged and cried as people were reunited for what for some was the first time in over two years.
Garth Halliday, who was waiting at the airport for his son, daughter-in-law and grandson to land from London, told local media it made him happy and emotional to see so many families reunited.
New Zealand had some of the toughest curbs in the world during the pandemic and has only recently begun easing its increasingly unpopular measures, in hopes of boosting tourism and alleviating labor shortages as the Omicron variant becomes rife domestically. is.
In February and March, the borders were opened to New Zealanders and Australians. Now visitors from about 60 visa-free countries can enter as long as they are vaccinated and test negative for Covid. There are no requirements for insulation.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told attendees at the US Business Summit in Auckland that foreign visitors will truly “bring back a piece that was missing from New Zealand and New Zealanders”.
On Monday, 43 international flights were scheduled to arrive or depart from Auckland International Airport carrying around 9,000 passengers.
Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Officer, said demand exceeded expectations and many of the services were filling up.
“This is welcome news for the New Zealand tourism industry that has weathered a severe storm,” she said.
Tourists from a number of countries, including India and China, are still barred with restrictions because they won’t be lifted until October.

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