Former Prime Minister Helen Clark is pushing the case for the Pacific Islands to be included in New Zealand's planned transtasman travel bubble with Australia.

This comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this morning said New Zealand was focusing on Australia ahead of the Pacific Islands when it comes to the creation of the bubble.

Although she was not being critical of the Government's position, Clark shared a Financial Times story titled: "Pacific islands plead to join Australia-New Zealand travel bubble."

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In it, Pacific-Island based businesses plead the case for their inclusion in the planned bubble.

"We have had no new cases in Fiji for a month and we are moving towards eradication,"
according to Tony Whitton, who owns Rosie Group, a family business established in 1974.
"I view this travel bubble as our only hope during hopeless times."

In a tweet linking to that story, Clark noted that almost two-thirds of tourists to South Pacific island nations are from Australia and New Zealand.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark. Photo / File
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark. Photo / File

"Tourism accounts for a significant proportion of GDP in a number of Pacific [countries]. Transtasman neighbours need to consider how Pacific inclusion in travel bubble could work," she said.

In an earlier tweet, she said: "In post #COVID19 reset, #Pacific SIDS with significant reliance on tourism could consider how to make their economies more resilient to shocks, but right now return of Australasian tourists would help immensely. More broadly A/NZ [Australia/ New Zealand] support for recovery needed."

She linked to a Herald comment piece, questioning if the Pacific should be included in New Zealand's travel bubble.

Whitton is not the only one who wants to see Pacific Islands included in the bubble.
Rick Felderhof, Managing Director of travel company Our Pacific, told the Herald there is "significant New Zealand demand for international travel to the Pacific Islands".

He said all Pacific Island countries are Covid-19 Free – some never had any cases at all – and desperately seeking the return of Kiwi holidaymakers.


Although Ardern has not ruled out including the Pacific Islands in the transtasman travel bubble in the future, she told Newstalk ZB this morning that the Government is focusing on Australia at the moment.

"We are focusing on Australia first."

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There were a "huge number" of reasons for this, she said.

"Not least tourism not going one way for us, but also New Zealand's closer economic relationship with Australia. We put that in a special category."