Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this morning made good on her promise to be “tourism promotion agent number one”, in pitching New Zealand to Australians looking to travel.
“Expect that you might be somewhat smothered by affection in a way you’ve not experienced before,” she told Australian radio station Five AA.
But she might have ruffled a few feathers after she referred to Australia as “an extra region of New Zealand”.
In a separate interview, she changed her language – asking a TV host to think of New Zealand as “another state of Australia”.
She was, however, talking in the context of what would happen if there was a Covid-19 outbreak in one part of Australia.
In that case, travel from the affected state would be paused but it would continue with other unaffected regions.
Ardern spoke to a number of major Australian media outlets this morning, including Sunrise and the Today Show.
As well as explaining Cabinet’s decision around the April 19 travel bubble commencement date, she also pitched New Zealand to Australians looking for an overseas trip.
“The message is, welcome. We want you to come visit us, we want family and friends to be reunited and that’s what this is all about,” she told Five AA.
She told the Today Show that New Zealand had missed their Australian cousins and New Zealanders are looking forward to welcoming them home.
“I can’t believe I am saying this but we have absolutely missed you and we want you to come see us again.
“Distance makes the heart grow fonder and that’s definitely the case here.”
But Ardern played down the impact the bubble might have on bolstering New Zealand’s hard-hit tourism section.
“The most important thing you will hear from Kiwis is [the] reunification… that is probably the most important thing.”
She said after speaking to media yesterday, a friend of hers sent her a screen shot of her flights to come to New Zealand.
Although tourism is important to New Zealand, she said it is an “added bonus” when it comes to the bubble opening.
“But nothing like the human-to-human contact that is so important.”
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