100,000 tourists stuck in New Zealand to leave as rules ease
But Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced Thursday that tourists could catch internal flights, so long as they were leaving the country. He said charter flights organized by foreign countries would also be allowed alongside regular commercial flights.
Officials said 37,000 tourists had signed up with their various embassies seeking to return home, although Peters said in an interview with radio station RNZ that the true number seeking to leave was about 100,000.
Air New Zealand said the first of several flights chartered by the German government to repatriate stranded Germans left Friday afternoon from Auckland bound for Frankfurt via Vancouver, Canada. The German Embassy in Wellington last week said more than 12,000 had signed up for its repatriation program.
“So even if we were to have chartered flights, we would still need commercial flights as well,” Clarke said in a video she posted on Twitter.
While most of the stranded tourists are from the U.K. and Europe, officials said about 2,700 tourists from Asia and 3,800 from North and South America combined had also signed up to be repatriated.
“Listen, we get it,” said U.S. Ambassador Scott Brown in a video message. “We’ve gotten your calls, your emails, your texts. We understand. And we know that you are worried about getting home. And we’re doing our very, very, very best to help.”
American tourist Lisa Horvath told RNZ that the news she would soon be able to return home and see her dog had come as ...
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