Survey shows need for visa/cost changes

Australia’s Tourism and Transport Forum and New Zealand’s Tourism Industry Association are urging their governments to reduce airport red tape and lower taxes to encouraging more sports fans to cross the Tasman Sea more often.

A recent Repucom survey, conducted in both countries, shows that visitors attending a major event make up one-third of trans-Tasman travellers. For most of those, the major event is a sporting fixture. Two thirds of those polled said they would be more likely to travel if the journey time was shorter.

TTF chief executive Margy Osmond said, “Australians and New Zealanders are sports-loving people so it’s no surprise that sport is such a popular reason to skip ‘across the Ditch’. Our survey showed that the most popular sports to travel for were rugby union, cricket and rugby league – all codes where there is a strong rivalry between our two nations.

“The real shocker is that 70 per cent of Kiwis said there was a major event they had wanted to attend in Australia, but didn’t, citing cost as the key deterrent. This should be a real wake up call for the Australian government. There is huge interest in visiting our country, but we’re turning away potential visitors through our sky-high tax on air tickets.

“The Australians surveyed in particular told us they’d like to see quicker journey times, which can be achieved by reducing the unnecessary queues we face leaving and entering our two countries.”

Ms Osmond said we should be aiming for a true common border between Australia and New Zealand, “but in the meantime there are some simple steps both our governments can take to shave over an hour off the current airport experience”.

“As a first step, Australia’s $55 departure tax should be dropped. The research clearly shows New Zealanders are particularly-price sensitive. Removing this tax – which can add up to over $200 for a family of four with teenage kids – would make air fares cheaper and Australia more attractive,” she said.

Chris Roberts, chief executive of the TIANZ said, “If we are to get more weekend and short-break trips from across the Tasman to watch sports, the research clearly shows we need to cut the total travel time from 6.5 hours today to closer to five. Stepping off trans-Tasman flight should feel like stepping off a domestic one, rather than the more complicated offload at an international terminal. Technology can replace all the time-consuming manual checks like passport control and bag inspections.”

Mrs Osmond stressed, “These reforms aren’t new. In fact, back in 2008 our respective prime ministers John Key and Kevin Rudd agreed to implement a common border by 2015, but here we are and little has changed.”

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