Bookings trickle in for quarantine-free flights from Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Vanuatu

Travel bookings from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu for the start of the one-way quarantine free travel with New Zealand are slowly trickling in and authorities there are hopeful for two-way travel soon.

One-way travel with low-risk Pacific countries resumes on November 8 from the three islands and Tokelau, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced last week.

Travellers from those nations will be able to bypass spending 14 days at a managed isolation and quarantine facility.

All travellers, New Zealand citizens, and NZ resident or visa critical purpose visa holders, would need to have stayed 14 days in their countries before departure and aren’t required to provide a pre-departure test.

They must be fully vaccinated, unless they are New Zealand citizens.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson said the first one-way QFT flight was scheduled for November 9 into Auckland, from Tonga.

There is another flight from Tonga on November 30, and two from Samoa on November 13 and 17.

“As you can imagine, demand is relatively low on these services being a one-way quarantine-free agreement, however it is great to be able to offer them to customers who can travel,” she said.

And [it] means we can open quickly when two-way quarantine-free travel commences.”

Samoa Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade chief executive, Peseta Noumea Simi, said Samoa had opened its borders to allow Tokelau travellers in so they could travel onto New Zealand.

“Samoa is Tokelau's gateway to the world hence the provisions to facilitate movement of the people of Tokelau,” Simi said.

“Samoa is comfortable with the arrangement under the circumstances.”

Air Vanuatu has a flight scheduled to arrive in Auckland on November 20.

A Vanuatu Tourism Office spokesperson said the one-way QFT travel with NZ was one small step closer to being tourism ready on the island.

"We know New Zealanders can’t wait to start travelling again, and we hope Vanuatu is on their list of places to go," she said.

Approximately 17,000 Kiwi visitors travelled to Vanuatu in 2019 before Covid-19 hit New Zealand in March 2020.

New Zealand was Vanuatu’s second-largest market, and Christmas and New Year was Vanuatu’s peak tourism season.

A spokesperson for Vanuatu Tourism said the country's vaccination roll-out continued, with 49 per cent of the eligible population having received their first dose.

“This percentage is much higher in the more population areas of Port Villa and Espiritu Santo where it is 68 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.”

Full details of the one-way QFT travel with Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Tokelau can be found on the Unite Against Covid-19 website.