A Government website telling tourists not to book flights to New Zealand is appalling and must be fixed, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The Immigration NZ website is informing tourists that the delay in issuing visas is so bad that they should not book their flights to New Zealand until their visa is secured.
“This is very disappointing and is leaving the tourism industry wondering what the Government is doing.
“Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has washed his hands of the issue, telling me that international visitors were returning to New Zealand. However, almost 35,000 people who have applied to come to New Zealand are still waiting for their visas.
“This means that more people are waiting for their visas to be processed than have been accepted since the border opened to non-visa waiver countries.
“A number of tourism operators have contacted me saying that Stuart Nash’s dismissive attitude is appalling and that he’s letting them down badly.
“Last month, Stuart Nash told the industry that he didn’t want backpackers to come here. Now, the New Zealand Government is telling potential high-spending visitors to not book travel until their visa has been approved. It is tantamount to telling potential tourists to go to Australia instead.
“The Government used to publish the average wait time for visitor visas. However, the wait time is now so bad that it has taken this data down. If a tourist doesn’t know how long they will have to wait, why would they choose to come to New Zealand?
“The reality is that tourists have options and will choose other countries like Australia where they have certainty. Once again, New Zealand misses out.
“The Labor Government had two years to get ready for the opening of the border. These delays are unacceptable. The Government needs to stop telling people not to visit New Zealand and fix the problems at Immigration New Zealand.”
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