The Australian and Tasmanian Governments will bankroll the relaunch of nonstop international flights to Hobart from January 2021.
Under a deal struck between the Morrison and Gutwein governments, up to 30,000 international travellers from New Zealand on more than 130 direct flights are projected to visit Tasmania annually. Flights will operate three times weekly from New Zealand, scaled back to twice weekly over winter months.
It has been more than two decades since Hobart has had international flights from across the Tasman.
Announcing the initiative, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a $49.2 million injection to fund around 30 Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police and biosecurity officers in order to convert Hobart Airport (HBA) into an international gateway.
The Tasmanian Government will invest $10 million to upgrade HBA’s infrastructure to facilitate international border arrangements.
“Safely opening to Australia and New Zealand will be a shot in the arm for Tassie tourism and jobs,” PM Morrison said.
“This has been an incredibly tough year for Australians and particularly our tourism and hospitality sectors, but this deal will mean tourists from low-risk areas can come to sample Tasmania’s incredible experiences, sights and produce.
“While the pandemic might have set back the timetable for making Hobart an international airport, it is just going to mean more pent up demand for the best Tasmania has to offer,” Morrison added.
Premier Peter Gutwein said the new air lift would be a “terrific boost for local jobs across our tourism sector”.
“2020 has been a challenging year, but this is a sensational coup, and I invite New Zealanders to come to Tasmania and discover what makes this place so very special.”
Acknowledging the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation sector, Gutwein said the Tasmanian Government would help underwrite the services between Auckland and Hobart for two years.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack also recognised the impact coronavirus has had on airline and the tourism industries, saying both sectors had been “smashed by COVID-19″.
“This deal is going to see more tourists at Tasmania’s museums and galleries, staying at its hotels, eating and drinking at its restaurants and cafes, and exploring its parks and sights,” McCormack added.
Assistant Minister Jonno Duniam said: “This is the shot in the arm that Tasmania’s tourism operators desperately need as they start rebuilding an industry that is stronger than it was before.”
The new arrangement is forecast to commence in January 2021, possibly as part of the proposed “Tasman Bubble” travel corridor, and flights will be reviewed annually.
Lead image: Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain National Park, Tasmania | credit: Rolf Loosli on Pixabay