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Welcome ready for Australian tourists


An enjoyable four-day weekend and the long-awaited prospect of a transtasman bubble set to be announced today have put a warm glow over the country as the week starts.

Only a disappointing road toll and a boat tragedy near Dunedin cast a shadow over the Easter break. The road toll of eight was especially bad compared with last year’s none, although of course the Covid-19 lockdown can be thanked for that.

The tourism industry is waiting expectantly for today’s bubble announcement, something its spokespeople have been pressing for repeatedly.

The industry says the bubble will bring in revenue of $1 billion and save businesses in tourist centres.

It will also seal a string of positive stories in the week leading up to Easter.

There was an early Easter present for British-born microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles who was named New Zealander of the year at a gala dinner in Auckland. Wiles was honoured for her work in communicating science information particularly regarding Covid-19.

With her bright pink hair she could not be more different than your standard scientist, and she has played a big part in combating the dreadful amount of misinformation circulating about the virus, especially on social media.

This is a battle that will continue as we go into the winter, as she and people like Otago University’s Professor Michael Baker face the challenge of getting accurate scientific information out into the public. Baker incidentally supports the transtasman bubble.

Treasury had some good pre-Easter news as well, saying the economic forecast was much brighter than in September. Tax revenue is now estimated to be $18bn higher for the period to 2025, leading to comments that the Government is flush with cash going into next month’s Budget.

However, there was a warning from the International Education Association that the country’s $5bn international student industry faced collapse unless the borders were open or there was a clear plan for that before the end of the year.

Retailers are warning that the increase in the minimum wage and shipping problems could see prices in shops rise in the coming months. The new Matariki public holiday will also have a negative impact from next year, with Employers and Manufacturers Association head of advocacy and strategy Alan McDonad saying a lot of businesses are “on the brink”.