NZ Chamber (Singapore) survey: NZ Reopening to the World.

New Zealand’s Covid-19 response is leaving the country behind other nations according to NZ Chamber (Singapore) members surveyed in the past week.  From 18th – 22nd November 2021, the NZ Chamber (Singapore) members were polled on “NZ Reopening to the World”. Among the 71 respondents, NZ was generally seen as a laggard in pivoting its Covid-response, cruel in its continuation of MIQ until well into 2022, and not leveraging the learnings from other countries. As one respondent said “The New Zealand Government needs to prepare the population for the reality of opening up, there is still a siege mentality with little awareness of other countries achievements with vaccine rollout or opening the economy safely”

Overall, while respondents rated NZ’s Covid response in 2020 positively, with 54% rating it a 7 out of 10 or higher, the comparison with 2021 was bleak: over 70% scored their home country at only 4 out of 10 or lower. As one respondent commented, “NZ did amazingly well in 2020 but the vaccine rollout earlier in 2021 was atrocious and left NZ exposed to the risk of delta. Eventually this hit.”

Despite the move to a new “fairer” lottery lobby system, away from the endless screen refreshing, the MIQ system is regarded as terrible. A resounding 74% gave NZs MIQ system a score of 1 out of 10. This is an increase from our survey in July when 54% of respondents gave MIQ a 1/10 rating. The MIQ lottery was described as “deplorable and cruel”, “an embarrassing stain on this government’s reputation that will haunt for eternity” and “outrageous!”.

In addition, 39% have wanted to travel to NZ for business but have been unable to due to covid restrictions while a staggering 93% have been unable to travel to NZ for personal reasons. “As a Kiwi overseas I have been left feeling stateless and quite helpless with the current policies for dealing with covid. I am effectively shut out of my own country”.

Offshore Kiwis have traditionally been net promoters of our country, however being shut out has changed the views of many expats. 80% feel less positive about NZ in 2021. Only 20% feel the same towards NZ and none felt more positive about NZ.

The question for many is Why can’t I return before Christmas? “It is getting harder watching international colleagues traveling – especially at Christmas – when we can’t, despite being double jabbed and having had the booster”.  

Our members believe NZ needs to be doing more to promote itself overseas as a destination for NZers returning, for students, for business and leisure travel. Or risk being left behind. The top 3 recommendations for the NZ Government followed best practices already adopted by close neighbours and international partners:

  1. Allow vaccinated travellers with negative pre-departure and on arrival tests to isolate at home
  2. Establish VTLS (Vaccinated Travel Lanes) with close trading/ tourism partners
  3. Recognise vaccine passports from other countries

Two days after the completion of the survey, on 24 November, the NZ government announced that:
- after 16 January 2022, Kiwis in Australia can travel to New Zealand without MIQ
- after 13 February 2022, New Zealanders from other countries can travel to NZ without MIQ
- Other travellers will be able to enter without MIQ from 30 April 2022.

While NZ Chamber members in Singapore are pleased that they may finally see the end of gamification to enter their home country, many are wondering why it will take 3 months for MIQ to end for NZ citizens, while Singaporeans citizens can already travel quarantine-free to Australia.