New Zealand’s tourism industry and opposition have lashed Jacinda Ardern for another trans-Tasman bubble delay.
On Monday, Ms Ardern announced she would nominate a bubble opening date on April 6, pushing out quarantine-free travel for Australians to allow for another two weeks of behind-the-scenes work.
National party leader Judith Collins, who has this month mounted a campaign to open the bubble at pace, criticised her Labour counterpart for her unpreparedness to act on her own long-held goal.
“The prime minister is immensely averse to actually making a decision,” she said.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said operators were tired of delays.
“Our success in dealing with COVID matched by Australia’s success gives us this opportunity to reconnect our two nations,” he said.
“However until they have a firm date, tourism operators cannot take bookings with confidence or scale up in terms of staff and services.
“It also delays marketing campaigns to the Aussies.”
Last month, Ms Ardern walked away from a pre-Christmas pledge to open the bubble by the end of March.
New Zealand has essentially co-opted Australia’s hotspot approach and will open to states individually when it believes it safe to do so.
Ms Collins said Ms Ardern’s prevarication was hurting Kiwi tourism.
“The prime minister’s announcement that at some stage we’ll have another announcement was almost a parody,” she said.
“It was almost Monty Python-esque. It was just about as bad as I’ve seen from any prime minister.
“This is just a holding announcement.
“If she said the first of April, I would have thought ‘yeah an April Fool’s Day joke’ and that’s exactly what it is.”