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(CNN) – More than two years later, New Zealand will reopen its borders to Australians from April 12 and to foreign tourists from visa-free countries from May 1, the government announced on Wednesday, March 16.
The move is part of an effort to accelerate economic recovery, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement. The Ardern government originally planned open by July 2022but she moved her schedule.
Arrivals from Australia will be able to enter without quarantine. In two and a half weeks, vaccinated tourists from visa-free countries and those with valid visitor visas will also be able to enter without quarantine.
Citizens of the UK, Japan, Germany, South Korea, the US and Singapore are among those who can visit New Zealand without a visa.
While this may be great news for travel-starved Americans, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently added New Zealand to Tier 4, the highest risk category. The CDC places a destination in this category if there are more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the last 28 days.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, international tourism contributed almost $11.5 billion to New Zealand’s GDP, and tourism industry workers made up 8% of the national workforce.
New Zealand closed its borders in March 2020 to stop the spread of Covid-19. The closures and restrictive measures have helped stem the spread of the virus, although the government has faced widespread criticism from its own citizens who have been unable to return.
Travelers choosing to visit New Zealand when it reopens will be spoiled for choice.
Image of Mount Taranaki by Lu Huaiqiang/Xinhua via Getty Images