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Singapore, Pacific nations next as leaders throw open doors to Tasman bubble

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Australia is in travel bubble talks with Singapore to join New Zealand in allowing quarantine-free international travel between the countries.

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Travellers from Australia no longer have to isolate after crossing the Tasman for the first time in more than a year with the first flight departing Sydney on Monday morning.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Singapore and Pacific island nations were likely to be the next countries to sign up to similar arrangements.

“We want to make sure that we get international travel back to some sort of normality,” he told the ABC on Monday.

New Zealand’s airports became the scene of celebration and reunification this morning with the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble.

“It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia,” said NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“Be it returning family, friends or holiday makers, New Zealand says welcome and enjoy yourself.

“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries’ reconnection with the world and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of.”

New Zealand’s relaxation of border rules comes six months after Australia began to open up to Kiwi travellers; a move started by NSW and the Northern Territory and which now extends to all states and mainland territories.

“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe and just in time for Anzac Day,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

“Both countries have done a remarkable job in protecting our communities from COVID and two-way flights are an important step in our road out.”

Ardern and Morrison said the Pacific was next.

“Australia and New Zealand are also exploring opportunities to extend quarantine-free travel to other countries in the Pacific, when it is safe to do so, reflecting our close ties to the Pacific and our commitment to supporting their recovery,” the statement read.

Kiwis have been wary of the resumption of quarantine-free travel, with many fearful of opening borders to other countries after adopting a ‘Fortress New Zealand’ mentality through the pandemic.

Business and the tourism industry are desperate for international travel to recommence, given its importance to the economy.

The New Zealand government is yet to launch a marketing campaign to try and coax Aussies to Aotearoa, but will do so within weeks.

Australia has not wasted any time beginning its own promotional work, spending $A3.1 million on a campaign encouraging Kiwis to ‘Be The First’ visitors.

On Sunday, Auckland’s Sky Tower – New Zealand’s tallest building – was illuminated in green and gold in a welcoming gesture for Australia.

On Monday, 25 flights – from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast – will land at New Zealand’s four international airports, with most heading to Auckland.

The first to land was a non-advertised Qantas flight, which news outlet Stuff reported was to arrive at Auckland minutes after midnight, carrying crew for later flights.

The first commercial flights into Auckland and Wellington will be met by celebrations organised by airport management.

Auckland airport has been segregated into a green zone for quarantine-free travel, and a red zone for flights from higher risk countries.

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