The 100% Pure campaign has created billions in value beyond the tourism sector (Photo: Tourism New Zealand.)
The 100% Pure campaign has created billions in value beyond the tourism sector (Photo: Tourism New Zealand.)

Covid-19March 22, 2021

The Bulletin: Tourism and the travel bubbles

The 100% Pure campaign has created billions in value beyond the tourism sector (Photo: Tourism New Zealand.)
The 100% Pure campaign has created billions in value beyond the tourism sector (Photo: Tourism New Zealand.)

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Tourism and the travel bubbles, major new study reveals carbon damage from bottom trawling, and mixed season for horticulture industry.

It’s a subject that has been well covered in recent days, but that’s partly because it’s one of the most important subjects in the country right now. So in terms of recent developments, cabinet is expected to be discussing today a proposal for a trans-Tasman travel bubble. Radio NZ reported yesterday that there are high hopes among the tourism and travel industries for it opening up, with a massive rush of bookings expected even just between New Zealand and Australia. And it’s also fair to say it would mark a major change in what life in New Zealand is like, and the relative isolation of the country right now.

Even if tourism restarts with Australia, the industry cannot expect things to necessarily go back to exactly how they were before. Minister Stuart Nash has been outlining his vision in recent days – as Justin Giovannetti reports, that is heavily based around cutting back on the volume of tourists, but trying to squeeze more money out of each of them, either through spending or levies. Just on the types of tourism generally, this is a fascinating story from Marlborough LDR Chloe Ranford about how many freedom campers tried to park up in contravention of bylaws over summer.

On other travel bubbles, National is pushing hard for Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to become part of one with New Zealand. Judith Collins told Newshub that it was necessary both to support the islands through tourism, and to allow recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers into New Zealand – more stories about that below. But it isn’t entirely clear that the Pacific countries actually want a bubble with New Zealand – here’s an excerpt from this morning’s Politik email newsletter that suggests the opposite.

“There are calls now to open up bubbles with the Pacific, but both Samoa and Tonga tightly restrict any inward migration. New Zealand officials have had difficulty even persuading them to accept repatriation flights of New Zealand RSE workers. POLITIK understands they have not requested a travel bubble with New Zealand.” 

An important new study into one of the hidden harms of bottom trawling – the destructive fishing practice that involves dragging weighted nets across the seafloor. Stuff has reported on the Nature journal article, which found that an immense amount of carbon gets released as a result – more carbon in fact than was released by global air travel in 2019. That’s because the ocean floor acts as a massive and vital carbon sink, so by disturbing that habitat humanity is increasing the likelihood of catastrophic climate change. The study has added momentum to calls from campaigners for a ban on the practice.

Two interesting stories about horticulture: Our Friday live updates (11.50am) reported that the apple and pear industry is facing millions in losses, attributed to a combination of labour shortages and hail events wiping out crops. Meanwhile, the Bay of Plenty Times (paywalled) reports the first ever exports of red kiwifruit to China have now gone out. This year’s kiwifruit crop is expected to set new volume records.

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There has been a steady drip of stories about the electoral office arrangements of Hutt South MP Ginny Anderson. The latest, from Stuff’s Thomas Coughlan, is that Anderson knew about the deal in 2017, which appears to contradict earlier statements she had made about it. The figures involved are not large – the deal results in the local Labour party pocketing $4500 a year from parliamentary services. But it feels wrong for public money to be going directly to parties in this manner.

Further charges have been laid against a man who allegedly made threats against two Christchurch mosques, reports Radio NZ. The 27 year old also stands accused of distributing the manifesto of the March 15 gunman, which is against the law. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and opted for a jury trial.

Today is a pretty major day for the public having their say on the future of Auckland. At midday, consultation will close on the Long Term Plan – that’s basically the blueprint for what the Council will push for over the next decade. There’s an excellent post on Greater Auckland setting out what sort of issues are on the table, and if you’re a resident of the big and burgeoning city I’d encourage you to get amongst.

Meanwhile, on Auckland infrastructure, the current design for the Skypath is likely to be scrapped, reports Simon Wilson for the (paywalled) NZ Herald. The problem seems to be about the ability of the structure to take the weight. Significant delivery delays are now expected. It’s one of those stories that acknowledges no official has confirmed the decision, but sets out in detail why it is likely to happen.

Some feedback on fluoridation: Gillian writes in to note “there are a lot of people on tank water in Northland where dental health is not good. How would  they be accessed?” And Toni had a sad story about lack of access: “My daughter, now in her thirties, has serious issues with her teeth. The orthodontist told her the dentine is so thin on her teeth that the front ones keep cracking. All of this (expense as well as damage) could have been prevented with fluoridated water.”

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Right now on The Spinoff: Tao Lin writes about the prevalent scourge of anti-Asian racism that continues to exist in New Zealand. Oliver Lewis writes about a plan to finally bring rail to Christchurch. Former media exec Hal Crawford joins The Fold podcast to talk about his recent review of the NZ Media Fund. Chris Schulz writes about his long battle to get a food delivery dream project off the ground. Michelle Langstone meets rising star writer Shilo Kino, and puts together a lovely empathetic feature out of it. And Siouxsie Wiles writes about a six-month long Covid mystery finally being solved.

For a feature today, a really interesting podcast about certainty, ignorance, and the way we talk about ambiguous information. The BBC Sounds podcast is called Flying Blind, and it looks at Britain going through a year of a wild range of predictions turning out to be totally wrong, and what the lessons of that are for how experts and politicians communicate uncertainty. It also goes into some of the problems with how GDP data is presented as cast iron fact when it’s really more of an early estimation – a reader sent the podcast in last week after New Zealand’s results came out. I’m not sure if the same process is used in New Zealand and Britain to calculate and present the figure, but it certainly makes you think about the value of defining the economy on such terms.

Overseas spectators will not be allowed to attend either the Tokyo Olympics or Paralympics this year, reports the Guardian. The reasons are fairly simple and self-explanatory – there’s no guarantee they’d even be able to get into Japan, with travel restrictions still in place. At this stage, the games themselves still look likely to go ahead.

And we’ve got a brand new episode of The Offspin for you. I reckon this one is one of the best we’ve ever done, and that’s all down to our interviewee having plenty of interesting stuff to say. We talked to 2022 Cricket World Cup CEO Andrea Nelson about Covid delays, the commercial viability of these sorts of events, and how much of the country’s sporting infrastructure often hasn’t been fit for purpose for women.

That’s it for The Bulletin. If you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme

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Was this the light that the prime minister stared at while designing the traffic light framework? Probably not tbh. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

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Attention drivers and other people who have from time to time looked at traffic lights: this is a scandal.