By Lucy Craymer
WELLINGTON (Reuters) -New Zealand's borders fully re-opened to visitors from around the world on Monday, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed them in March 2020.
New Zealand's borders started reopening in February first for New Zealanders and restrictions have progressively eased.
The process of reopening the borders ended last night with visitors who need visas and those on student visas now also allowed to return to New Zealand. New Zealand is now also letting cruise ships and foreign recreational yachts docks at its ports.
Most visitors arriving in New Zealand still need to be vaccinated against COVID and must take two COVID tests after arriving. However, there are no quarantine requirements.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday during a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland that the final staged opening of the borders had been an enormous moment.
"It's been a staged and cautious process on our part since February as we, alongside the rest of the world continue to manage a very live global pandemic, while keeping our people safe."
International students were a significant contributor to New Zealand's economy and educational providers are hoping the reopening of the borders will again provide a boost to schools and universities around the country.
New Zealand Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said the return of cruise ships will also be a boost for local industries.
"Most cruise visits are during the warmer months of October to April, and summer is our bumper tourism season overall. This means it will be full steam ahead for the industry," said Nash.
(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Sandra Maler and Michael Perry)