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Foreign Tourists Begin Arriving in New Zealand After COVID Restrictions Lifted

Family members embrace after a flight from Los Angeles arrived at Auckland International Airport as New Zealand's border opened for visa-waiver countries on May 2, 2022.

For the first time in over two years, overseas tourists have been allowed to enter New Zealand starting Monday.

The island nation known for its natural beauty enacted some of the strictest lockdown measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, including very restrictive travel limitations.

The country had reopened for tourists from Australia weeks ago, but the new relaxation of restrictions now allows tourists from over 60 countries to visit, including most European countries and the U.S.

"Today is a day to celebrate and is a big moment in our reconnection with the world," said Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.

Tourists must show they are fully vaccinated and test negative for the virus.

Citizens of China, India and other countries not given a waiver Monday are still not allowed to visit.

Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for 5% of the country’s economic activity and 20% of its foreign income.

On Monday, 43 international flights carrying around 9,000 passengers were scheduled to leave or arrive at Auckland International Airport, Reuters reported.

Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.