As the Cricket World Cup heats up, research has revealed that Australians and New Zealanders want faster, cheaper travel across the ditch to make attending sporting events easier. Reducing airport red tape and lowering taxes are key to encouraging more sports fans to cross the Tasman Sea more often, according to Australia and New Zealand’s peak tourism bodies Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) and Tourism Industry Association (TIA)
The survey, conducted in Australia and New Zealand, shows that one-third of trans-Tasman travel is by those attending a major event, with the majority watching a sporting fixture. However, two thirds of those polled said they would be more likely to travel if the journey time were shorter.
Chief Executive Margy Osmond said: “Australians and New Zealanders are sports-loving people so it’s no surprise that sport is such a popular reason to skip ‘across the Ditch’. Our survey showed that the most popular sports to travel for were rugby union, cricket and rugby league – all codes where there is a strong rivalry between our two nations.
“The real shocker is that 70 per cent of Kiwis said there was a major event they had wanted to attend in Australia, but didn’t, citing cost as the key deterrent. This should be a real wake up call for the Australian government. There is huge interest in visiting our country, but we’re turning away potential visitors through our sky-high tax on air tickets.
“The Australians surveyed in particular told us they’d like to see quicker journey times, which can be achieved by reducing the unnecessary queues we face leaving and entering our two countries.
Chris Roberts, Chief Executive of the Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand commended the research, saying it reinforced the view that cost was a barrier to travel. “As a first step, Australia’s $55 departure tax should be dropped. The research clearly shows New Zealanders are particularly-price sensitive. Removing this tax – which can add up to over $200 for a family of four with teenage kids – would make air fares cheaper and Australia more attractive.
Mrs Osmond added: “Serious reform is also needed at our airports. If we are to get more weekend and short-break trips across the Tasman to watch sports, we need to cut the total travel time from 6.5 hours today to closer to 5.
“Stepping off trans-Tasman flight should feel like stepping off a domestic one, rather than the more complicated offload at an international terminal. Technology can replace all the time-consuming manual checks like passport control and bag inspections.
“We should still aim for a true common border, but there are some simple steps both our governments can take to shave over an hour off the current airport experience.
“When asked about these proposals, over 80 per cent of respondents agreed this would be a good idea. Two in three said a quicker passage through the airports would make them more likely to travel across the Tasman.
“These reforms aren’t new. In fact, back in 2008 our then Prime Ministers John Key and Kevin Rudd agreed to implement a common border by 2015, but here we are and little has changed. While there may be in-principle support for the idea, it has always remained low on the priority list. Well, here is the evidence: more people would visit New Zealand if we could cut down the time it takes to get there and more New Zealanders would visit Australia if it were cheaper.”
“There are also several Australian cities like Canberra, Newcastle and Townsville with professional sports teams who lack international flights. Some 18 per cent of respondents said direct flights to these regional cities would prompt them to make a trip”.
“The Cricket World Cup is a shining example of how we can make events like this work. For the first time we are trialling common visas between our two countries making it easier for visitors to combine trips to Australia with a trip to New Zealand. So far, this has been hugely successful. It is our hope that this will now be permanently implemented.
“Our two countries are ‘mates’ and whatever happens today at Eden Park, that won’t change. We should do so much more to give each other a warmer welcome. Implementing these changes would go a long way to giving sports fans people what they want – cheaper and easier travel across between Australia and New Zealand.”
Repucom surveyed 1,595 people aged 18 and above from Australia’s east coast capital cities and across New Zealand. A snapshot of the results is as follows:
• Attending a major event was the main reason for one third of trans-Tasman travel last year
• Half of those people attended sporting events
• Rugby union was the most popular sport to travel to attend
• 70% of Kiwis said there was a major event that had wanted to attend, but didn’t
• For Kiwis, the biggest deterrent is cost, for Aussies it’s time
• Four in five think domestic-style air travel between Australia and NZ is a good idea
• And two in three say it would make them more likely to travel between the two countries
• 18% of respondents said direct flights between New Zealand and Australian regional cities would prompt travel