Bring it on: Print industry rejoices the NZ travel bubble

The news that Australians can travel to New Zealand from April 19 without having to be vaccinated or endure a 14-day quarantine has been welcomed by the print sector with many industry leaders predicting positive knock-on effects for print demand.

The travel relaxation announced by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier this week does come with some caveats though which means if there is an outbreak the bubble could be put on hold, which risks hampering travel plans.

News today that one hotel quarantine worker has tested positive to COVID in New Zealand is the type of hiccup that will likely impact the scheme, but it is hoped these can be managed in a way to not block all travel going forward.

But despite these kinds of potential issues, the news has been greeted with great excitement across the print industry.   

The Real Media Collective CEO Kellie Northwood said the announcement had come earlier than expected but is extremely positive for Australia and New Zealand and will bring knock-on benefits for printers.

The Real Media Collective chief executive officer Kellie Northwood

She said many large retailers, for example Kathmandu and Woolworths, operate across Australia and New Zealand, as well as numerous insurance companies, all of which are substantial users of print.

“It is so much easier to work with your customers when you can actually see them,” Northwood told Sprinter, adding a third of The Real Media Collective’s members are New Zealand companies.

“It is easier if you do have a trans-Tasman footprint as you can get your teams together where needed. It also helps with liaising across both sides as some print work might be printed with a supply partner in New Zealand if the account is held in Australia.

“I know plenty of smaller printers have joint contracts in place where they have a partner in New Zealand and a partner here in Australia and they are around the same size as each other.

There would also be all-round benefits, even for printers that do not have customers themselves in New Zealand.

“I also think for any customers that don’t have a footprint across both countries a lot of their customers do and if their customers are thriving than that helps us too,” she said.

“A lot of the retailers and insurance and tourism is trans-Tasman. Everything is a good win for the print industry because it feeds through all parts of the economy.”

PrintNZ chief executive Ruth Cobb says the move to open up the borders will bring expanded opportunities on both sides of the Tasman.

“While initially many families will make the most of the opportunity to reunite in person after some 14 months of restrictions, we are hopeful that the flow of visitors in both directions will give a much needed boost to the tourism and hospitality industries, with some potential drop-through to print,” Cobb said.

“It will also allow trans-Tasman businesses to move staff and visit customers more freely and even open up the possibility for Kiwis to attend PacPrint in September.”   

Screen Australia managing director Peter Scott said he is looking forward to meeting his New Zealand customers face to face again.

Screen Australia managing director Peter Scott

“Although we have been working extremely well using Zoom and phone calls with our customers and longtime partner Fujifilm NZ, I am very much looking forward to seeing them again face to face,” Scott said.

“One thing the pandemic has taught us is how much we miss actually meeting with people and how important that is for our partnerships and ultimately better for business.”

Epson Australia managing director Craig Heckenberg welcomed the travel bubble and said he is expecting to travel to New Zealand in the coming weeks.

Epson’s Craig Heckenberg

“I am hoping to travel to New Zealand as soon as possible given the positive news on the trans-Tasman bubble, and visit our staff and customers there given that I have been unable to do so thus far with the travel restrictions,” he said.  

Durst Oceania managing director Matt Ashman said it is a great thing for both as it is a good thing for business which will aid the recovery of both economies.

Matt Ashman, Managing Director of Durst Oceania

“New Zealand is our nearest neighbour and is a great trading partner and this will boost business confidence across the board which is a good thing for everyone,” Ashman said.

He also said the opening of the NZ border will work well with the COVID-induced re-shoring of print work to Australia.

“Australian printers have benefited because work that would normally go to China has been re-shored back here and I think that is only going to continue.

“New Zealand has a little bit of a limited capacity, especially in high-volume, so being able to trade across the ditch can only be a good thing.”

Konica Minolta opened its own direct NZ operation during COVID last year.

Konica Minolta Australia general manager of industrial and production print, Sue Threlfo, said the relaxation of the travel rules with New Zealand will enable the company to work together more fluidly to better serve customers.

Konica Minolta Australia general manager production and industrial print Sue Threlfo

“We are delighted that travel with New Zealand is opening up.  We commenced a direct NZ operation during the pandemic in 2020, hiring a number of staff, securing premises, and engaging with customers remotely,” Threlfo said.

“Our NZ Managing Director was recruited from our operation in Australia, and earlier this year he moved over and had to hotel quarantine.  It will be a great bonus for us to now move freely between the two countries and share best practices.”

Currie Group chief executive officer Rob Mesaros said there is no doubt that more travel will equal more opportunities.

Currie Group CEO Rob Mesaros

“More tourism will have an on the ground flow on effect, particularly for industries that have been greatly affected such as hospitality, food and beverage and events,” Mesaros told Sprinter.

“We also look forward to having our customers well represented at the upcoming PacPrint exhibition.”

Mesaros said Currie Group’s strong locally based New Zealand team meant the company had continued to support the industry through the challenging times of COVID but he is looking forward to visiting the market as soon as convenient to spend time with customers.

Rodd Harrison, EFI’s vice president of sales in APAC, warmly welcomed the move and looks forward to when it extends to Singapore, where he is based.

EFI vice president sales – APAC – Rodd Harrison

“The travel bubble is a positive move for the A/NZ region. That’s welcome relief and means that the interaction between many businesses across the Tasman can start up again. We’re very pleased to hear that and will take advantage of it as soon as we can, to get our staff from Australia to New Zealand to meet customers,” he said.

“I’ll be a lot happier when there’s a travel bubble open between Singapore-Australia or Singapore-New Zealand, or both. I’ve been here in Singapore for about 14 months and with so much going on in Australia, am desperate to get down there and visit some customers. As soon as the bubble opens, I’d probably spend a month or two there. Australia is a ‘bright spot’ and so is New Zealand so I’m happy for the locals and what this means for the A/NZ economies.

However, although personal travel is looking all well and good, the problem has actually been with international freight. Almost all shipments are delayed and costs have skyrocketed. Sometimes businesses must wait up to four weeks to even get a spot in a container. That has effectively doubled delivery times, and there’s just no way around it.”

Starleaton CEO Ben Eaton said New Zealand’s decision should also send a strong message to Australian states to end hard border closures.

Starleaton CEO Ben Eaton

“There is no doubt that getting stability on the borders is critical so I think it will send a message to Australian states to not have this hard border closure reaction but work on a more micro level because so many businesses are effected and all of those businesses are customers of printers so bring it on,” Eaton told Sprinter.

“I’m certainly looking forward to getting over to New Zealand and seeing our team and also allowing them to come and join our face-to-face sessions here in Australia.”

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