Changes to gathering limits and Covid-19 contact tracing app use may not going to make a difference for the Bay of Plenty's tourism and hospitality sector, businesses say.
Meanwhile accommodation providers are still faced with a struggle against global economic headwinds.
From Friday at 11.59pm New Zealanders were no longer required to use the Covid-19 contact tracing app to scan into places they visited.
Indoor gathering limits increased to 200 while outdoor gathering limits were removed altogether.
But many in the tourism and hospitality sector believe the changes announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week are not going to provide the boost they need.
Bay Karts Outdoor Racing co-owner Lance Somervell said he and his wife had "bent over backwards" to accommodate vaccinated and unvaccinated customers and being an outdoor space helped.
"We don't even have room for 200 people on site and we run scheduled booking times."
Somervell said he did hope the announcements would change customers' perceptions.
"Hopefully they'll feel more comfortable going out."
Somervell said business had been substantially quieter over the past two years.
"In Christmas 2019 everything was booming. We're 80 per cent down on that. It's a ghost town on Sundays.
"Since we went to Red traffic light the Saturdays have been better, at about 50 per cent."
Somervell said a pandemic was "not a particularly stress-free time to be an owner of anything".
Last week the Prime Minister also announced that vaccine passes were no longer required as part of New Zealand's Covid-19 protection framework from April 4.
One Bay of Plenty Tourism spokesperson said organisers behind Local Wild Food Festival had gotten the confidence to reschedule after the Prime Minister's announcements.
There are hopes other big events will follow suit.
"Hospitality and events, which are a crucial part of the visitor economy, will benefit," the spokesperson said.
"We've rounded the final bend and can clearly see a finish line for the first time but we've used so much gas to get here that the fuel gauge is now in red."
Tourism Bay of Plenty head of destination management Mary Tolley said her team was having one-on-one meetings with local operators to discuss current needs.
"There are also plenty of exciting opportunities evolving for our region in the business events space."
Rocktopia owner Carla Lockley said the changes to indoor gathering limits were "neither here nor there" for her business.
However, Lockley said dropping the requirement for vaccine passes would "make a huge difference".
"There are so many people who can't come in or vulnerable children who don't want to come in."
Lockley said the need for vaccination passes meant Rocktopia had lost a few members and she was looking forward to welcoming them back.
Orca Wild Adventures and Dolphin Swims owner Mark Tucker said removing mandates wouldn't get tourism back up and running.
"I don't think it's going to make any difference at all," Tucker told the Bay of Plenty Times.
"We're just waiting for the borders to properly open up.
"Last year was fine but this year's been dead. People are absolutely more afraid of catching Covid."
New Zealand Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois also hoped the removal of mandates in April would boost customer confidence.
"But the increase of limits to 200 while the seated and separated rule remains, will have little to no impact on our small and medium-sized business which make up the majority of the industry."
Before the Prime Minister made the latest mandate and vaccine pass announcements a survey of Restaurant Association members showed 77 per cent of respondents supported the removal of the requirement for hospitality workers to be fully vaccinated.
The same survey of members indicated 87 per cent would support changes to the requirement for customers to present a My Vaccine Pass.
"In a busy restaurant environment and with limited staff it is not always easy to have sufficient staff to be constantly monitoring diners' compliance," Bidois said.
Frosty and Fox Hawker House co-owner Lisa Kerr said the adjustments to gathering limits would not change the way she and her staff operated.
"The only good thing about it is hopefully consumer confidence will grow and people will start to relax.
"Hopefully in Easter we'll get some Aucklanders down and the return of international visitors will mean the year isn't so dull."
Hospitality NZ accommodation sector Bay of Plenty chairman and Tauranga's 850 Cameron Motel owner Tony Bullot said whatever changes the recent announcements could make were not visible yet.
"The announcements do change things in that people can have weddings and funerals again and outdoor sport.
"Ironically, One Love could have gone ahead but was just cancelled last week."
Bullot said even if Covid-19 was taken out of the equation the global economic headwinds were going to be hard to weather.
"People are nervous now and [the economy] is slowing down," Bullot said.
"When the economy's doing well the accommodation sector does well."
However Bullot said it was important for the public to know one thing.
"We're open. We're safe. Keep coming."