The great escape: Aucklanders keener than other Kiwis to holiday overseas

Lockdown-weary Aucklanders are keener than other Kiwis to get overseas, research shows.

A survey of more than 500 people showed 55 per cent of Aucklanders — who have just endured 107 days of lockdown — want to travel abroad next year compared to the national average of 40 per cent.

Those in the Bay of Plenty are next most likely to take an international trip — 34 per cent — while those in Canterbury/West Coast are most likely to stay in this country (26 per cent).

The higher likelihood of Aucklanders taking their holiday dollars overseas comes after anecdotal reports of them not being welcome in the South Island and parts of the North Island with lower vaccination rates.

One traveller told the Herald he had experienced a frosty reception in the South Island and wouldn’t be returning.

Around the time of last year’s August Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland, some motorhome parks actively excluded Aucklanders, which was unjustified and hurtful.

“They just want the money.”

Pre-pandemic New Zealanders spent around $9 billion on overseas holidays.

Travel agents are reporting high pent up demand to get overseas when travel becomes more practical for New Zealanders, first to Australia from mid-January and to the rest of the world from mid-February, when they can avoid MIQ on their return and self-isolate at home for seven days.

House of Travel commercial director Brent Thomas said people were booking mainly Australia and South Pacific holiday but there were still a significant number of people who were booking for long haul travel, particularly into Britain and Europe.

River cruising and ocean cruising in Europe was popular into 2023. “Some people’s bookings are actually even over $100,000, they’re big bookings at any time. People aren’t going to have a third winter in New Zealand come what may.”

People had saved big amounts of money, which for many was disposable and could be spent on travel.

Propensity to travel was stronger among younger people.

“Some have delayed their OE and are now getting organised.” And the date of the 13th of January the 13th of February is a key driver for some of those travel.

Thomas said travel would not be the same. It could be more expensive due to less competition and high fuel prices forcing up fares and the cost of Covid-19 tests, depending on requirements of the time, would add to fares.

However, there was no sign of increased costs being a deterrent for travellers who were now more likely to use agents, as travel became more complicated, he said.He said popular global destinations would sell out fast as travel bounced back and there was less airline and hotel capacity.

The Gem study showed up to 87 per cent of Kiwis are planning a trip this summer.
Catching up with family and friends is the principal driver of people’s holiday plans, with the survey showing 97 per cent of respondents are looking forward to connecting with loved ones.

Holidaymakers are also looking to enjoy some adventure after two years of Covid-19 disruption and for many months spent largely confined to their homes. Seventy-nine per cent of travellers are seeking active holidays, showed data from a national survey of 524 New Zealanders aged 18 and over.

“New Zealand is entering a travel boom as people look to get away and enjoy their freedom after the Covid lockdowns and border closures. It seems we all want some travel excitement back in our lives this summer,” said David Gelbak, Gem’s chief country officer.

“Gem’s travel survey is significant because it proves that people are now willing and able to break free after the past two years and go see the family or friends they have missed, in a Covid-safe way of course,” he said.

Any boost to domestic tourism will be welcomed by operators who in the year to March 31 shed 72,000 jobs as the number of international holidaymakers fell by 99.9 per cent or1.8 million.

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