“Australia is currently New Zealand tourism's largest visitor market, with 1.27 million arrivals in the year ending March 2015, worth around $2.1 billion annually. We know that reducing barriers to travel would stimulate demand and encourage more Australians to view New Zealand as a domestic holiday destination which they may visit multiple times,” says Mr Roberts.
“New Zealanders are also an important visitor market for Australia, with 1.1 million Kiwis crossing the Tasman in the year ending March.”
Mr Roberts says scrapping passports would strengthen the relationship between New Zealand and Australia, which is currently being hindered by the lack of travel freedom.
Joint research released earlier this year by TIA and the Australia Tourism & Transport Forum showed more sports fans would cross the ditch to watch big fixtures if travel was made cheaper and faster.
“Stepping off a trans-Tasman flight should feel like stepping off a domestic one. We are out of step with other nations which consider themselves close friends. The EU offers passport-free travel for around 26 countries and there are numerous other country blocs around the world with passport free travel.”
Mr Roberts says a free travel zone was in force from 1973 to the early 1980s, allowing passport-free trans-Tasman travel for New Zealanders, Australians and Commonwealth citizens.
“In 1981 a requirement for passports was introduced following some high profile drug smuggling cases. However, technology and risk profiling now provide a sophisticated level of border protection that wasn't available 30 years ago.
“In 2015, it is time to celebrate 100 years of ANZAC friendship, more than 30 years of free trade and encourage greater freedom of travel between Australia and New Zealand.”