An increase in web traffic from Australians is among positive signs regional tourist operators are seeing as the trans-Tasman bubble is launched.
General manager of Canopy Tours in Rotorua Paul Button and base manager for INFLITE skydiving at the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers Robbie Stewart are among business operators who have been impacted by the lack of international travellers.
Both told RNZ’s Morning Report they are relieved the border has re-opened to Australian visitors but the industry still faces a long recovery from the impact of Covid-19.
Paul hopes it will make a big difference to tourism in Rotorua. He says it is hard to know its impact but website traffic had lifted with views from up to 300 Australians and about $1000 in sales recently.
"In one sense we're forecasting not a lot of change in the start so we don't get ahead of ourselves but as we get a couple of months in, it might really crack."
Paul says his business had the capacity to run at 10 times its current level.
He says the rest of the country could share the excitement of New Zealanders reuniting with relatives based in Australia.
Robbie Stewart says the bubble is an important development that he had been wanting for some time. His region could offer Australian visitors "a super-different environment" with mountains and glaciers "so that's going to count a lot in our favour".
His business had also noticed an increase in web traffic from Australians and there had been a pleasing increase in accommodation bookings in the region.
Some accommodation providers had closed down, but he was sure there would be enough spaces at least for the early stages of the trans-Tasman bubble.
The Department of Conservation's Jobs for Nature programme meant 80 per cent of his staff had been retained throughout the border shutdown, says Robbie.
Paul says his company has enjoyed strong support from domestic tourists in the last year and he hopes this will continue and that people will not assume the tourism sector's problems were fixed with the opening of links with Australia.