Push to make transtasman travel easier

A new push is being made to make transtasman travel easier.

Australia's Tourism and Transport Forum (TFF) wants a domestic flight style travel experience at international airports in Australia and New Zealand by streamlining of border formalities on exit and entry.

It is pushing the Australian government to more than halve departure tax to $A25, open new points of entry at secondary airports and and develop common visitor visas to encourage more international visitors to combine both countries in one trip.

The campaign launched today has the backing of tourist and business groups in this country.

Easing rules around transtasman travel is frequently on the agenda for bilateral talks between New Zealand and Australia but there has been no public signs of progress recently.

New Zealand and Australia provide the largest single source of visitors for each country with more than 1.2 million Australians crossing the ditch in the year to June 2014 and just over one million Kiwis visiting Australia.

New Zealand Tourism Industry Association chief executive Chris Roberts said the implementation of reforms would unlock further growth from Australia.

The current bilateral arrangements between Australia and New Zealand lag behind border agreements elsewhere in the world, like those for the 26 countries within Europe's Schengen zone, between the United States and Canada, and between Britain and Ireland, he said.

"Identifying and eliminating or mitigating facilitation barriers are a key to improving the visitor experience at the border while driving more value from the Australian market. And a common visa, like the temporary one in place for the 2015 Cricket World Cup, is a catalyst to encourage visitors from visa required countries like India and China to include Australia and New Zealand on the same itinerary," he said.

Roberts said he agreed with the Australian TTF that next year's Anzac Centenary represented a real opportunity to move on the reforms and cement the Closer Economic Relationship that has been in place between our two countries for more than 30 years."

The TFF said direct flights could go from New Zealand to Newcastle, Hobart, Canberra or The Whitsundays and this would open up these cities as new destinations for leisure travel, especially the short-break market.

"If all these three reforms were implemented, we would expect to see as many as 200,000 additional New Zealanders visit Australia by 2020, with a boost to spending of up to A$370 million." the federation said.

The Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum co-chair Rod McGeoch said removing the barriers to transtasman travel would significantly enhance trade and relations between the two countries and would position both of them to do more business with Asia.

- By Grant Bradley of the NZ Herald

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