К : PTI. Wellington.
Published : 3. April 2020 13:48:01
While most stranded tourists from Great Britain and Europe, according to officials, have booked about 2,700 tourists from Asia and 3,800 from America together to be repatriated. (image)
Approximately 100,000 tourists have been stranded in New Zealand since the blockade began last week with flying home on Fridays. The initial problem for many tourists was that they were not allowed to take domestic flights during the months of strict isolation to prevent further coronavirus infections.
A domestic no-fly zone prevented tourists from reaching the country’s main hub in Auckland to take international flights. But Secretary of State Winston Peters announced Thursday that tourists can take domestic flights if they leave the country.
According to him, in addition to commercial scheduled flights, charter flights from abroad should also be permitted. Officials said 37,000 tourists had registered with various embassies and wanted to return to their homeland, although Peters said in an interview with RNZ radio that the actual number of tourists wanting to leave is about 100,000.
The German embassy in Wellington announced last week that more than 12,000 tourists have joined its repatriation programme, with the German government mainly chartering flights from Air New Zealand.
British High Commissioner Laura Clarke said that 10,000 British tourists had registered in her office and wanted to go home. So even if we had charter flights, we’d still need commercial flights, Clark said in a video she posted on Twitter.
Although the majority of stranded tourists come from the United Kingdom and Europe, the authorities have stated that a total of some 2 700 tourists from Asia and 3 800 from America have also applied to be repatriated.
Look, we get it, American Ambassador Scott Brown said in a video message. We have received your calls, e-mails and text messages. We understand that. And we know you’re afraid to go home. And we’ll do everything we can to help you.
American tourist Lisa Horvath told the RNZ that the news that she could soon go home and see her dog was a great relief. She said she could now walk around New Zealand, which is allowed under the lock-out rules.
I feel like I can enjoy these places instead of being bored by the fact that I am here, a kind of space that I enter emotionally, she said. I was so desperate to know what time I’d get home.
Peters said the number of Qatar Airways flights from New Zealand to Europe will increase from one to two per day. In New Zealand there were 868 cases of VIDOC-19 and one death from the disease.
About half of these cases involve foreigners returning home, and the country has so far avoided major local epidemics. New Zealand’s lucrative tourism industry, which was the largest source of overseas revenue, was shut down in response to the outbreak of the virus.
New Zealand estimates that industry accounts for around 10% of GDP and employs 230,000 people.
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