A special trans-Tasman cultural welcome and colourful celebration was waiting for Kiwi visitors who landed on the Gold Coast today as travel recommenced across the ditch.
The day started with a skydiving display, featuring giant Australian and New Zealand flags landing at the southern end of the airport during the sunrise. An Australian indigenous welcome to country and New Zealand Haka demonstration was staged for arriving passengers on the airport apron.
Also part of the trans-Tasman fun were wildlife displays, a Kiwi bubble tea stand, Gold Coast Titans representatives and a host of characters and mascots. Lamingtons, the origin of which is heavily disputed by Australians and New Zealand, were handed out to arriving passengers and a spectacular aviation-themed cake was cut to mark the occasion.
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said the airport team and tourism operators were extremely excited about the resumption of trans-Tasman travel, with 16 services scheduled in the first week alone.
“We have been waiting more than 12 months for the restart of international travel and today it begins with one of the Gold Coast’s most important overseas markets and Australia’s closest neighbour,” he said.
“Given the impact of this separation on so many people, we are expecting to see lots of emotional reunions at Gold Coast Airport over the next few weeks. With 60,000 Kiwis living on the Gold Coast and the region rating highly on travel wish lists of New Zealand residents, we expect these services to be extremely popular in both directions.”
Mr Mills said the start of the inaugural Qantas Gold Coast-Auckland service on day one of trans-Tasman travel made the milestone day particularly special.
“Recovery is ramping up for the airport and the tourism operators we support, and Qantas starting the first international service in the airport’s history has given us even more reasons to celebrate today,” he said.
Qantas will join Jetstar and Air New Zealand in connecting the Gold Coast to Auckland from today.
Destination Gold Coast chief executive officer Patricia O’Callaghan said the Qantas Gold Coast-Auckland service marked a milestone for Gold Coast tourism’s recovery.
“The restart of New Zealand travel represents our first international market to come back online in over a year, so the significance of this moment cannot be understated,” said Ms O’Callaghan.
“Our 4,600 tourism operators are extremely keen to roll out the welcome mat to travellers who traditionally flee winter to soak up our sunshine and Gold Coast experiences.
“Thank you to Qantas for their vote of confidence in the Gold Coast and to our partners Gold Coast Airport and the City of Gold Coast for their valued support.”