The tourism industry's frustration at a further delay in announcing the start of a transtasman bubble is understandable.
Airports, airlines, travel and tour operators, and Aussies actively considering a trip to New Zealand are almost universally supportive of a safe travel zone between the two countries.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that eager travellers will have to wait until after Easter before a call on any date for quarantine-free arrangements on this side of the Tasman, to match those that have been in place in many Australian states since last October.
The Government says more work needs to be done on regulations and rules on both sides of the Tasman, and has blamed Australia for nixing a deal in February.
But a quarantine-free bubble remains tantalisingly close and the size of the prize - $1 billion before the end of the year - could be a lifeline for many in the industry, which was completely halted by New Zealand's level 4 lockdown exactly a year ago.
While there's been something of a recovery since, thanks to many Kiwis spending what they would overseas on domestic travel instead, there are limits to how deep locals' pockets are.
This Government, like those before it, cheerfully rode the inbound tourism wave - raking off $1.7b a year from GST alone - and did nothing to discourage Kiwi businesses from chasing tourism receipts.
Now that borders are shut and international travel will take years to recover, tourism operators are repeatedly told by Government ministers to pivot. Increasingly, the response is: "To what?"
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash - like Sir John Key, when he was in the job more than a decade ago - believes New Zealand needs to chase higher value visitors.
Nash says tourism was starting to lose its social licence to operate and is doing work to make sure that when visitors do return, they pay a fairer share. While emphasising what was spent on emergency funding last year, he is not specific about immediate help for operators, many of whom are holding on by their fingernails.
Further support for tourism this year required a more structured approach for those who need it most.
"I am considering potential next steps till borders re-open, such as making it easier to hibernate firms and to start up again; help to diversify regional economies over-reliant on international tourism; and deployment of tourism workers to other sectors," Nash says.
He also says he wants the sector to come up with what could be an Industry Transformation Plan - something that has got Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) steamed up, given that the minister has already had an interim Tourism Futures Taskforce for the past three months.
TIA chief executive Chris Roberts says: "This is disappointing, given the huge time and resource the industry put into developing the report. It was intended to provide the blueprint for the future course of tourism but is now being seen as just a useful input into Government thinking."
Roberts is disappointed at the delay to a bubble announcement as the clock ticks for tourism businesses.
Some operators are hanging on in the hope of a positive bubble announcement after Easter, but it is likely that there will be more businesses going into hibernation or closing in the near future. Roberts still hopes the bubble can be operating before the end of April. The industry was desperate to cash in on at least part of the Australian school holidays, he said.
"Until they have a firm date, tourism operators cannot take bookings with confidence or scale up in terms of staff and services. It also delays marketing campaigns to the Aussies."
Research released this week by Tourism New Zealand suggests that if Aussies could travel here quarantine-free from May, they could spend $1b here before the end of the year.
The interim chief executive of TNZ, Rene de Monchy, said the Kantar research showed that up to 2.3 million Australians would like to get to New Zealand although not that many people were likely to make the trip.
He said the initial wave of arrivals would be those visiting friends and relatives before leisure travellers came here.
Australians made up about 40 per cent of the total visitor count of almost 4 million a year before the pandemic.
While $1b was small compared to the $17b a year of pre-pandemic spending by overseas visitors, he said it would give tourism operators something to plan around.
The Kantar research into Australians "actively considering" a holiday here shows 92 per cent think New Zealand's health response to Covid-19 has been good or excellent. Just on 60 per cent of them want to come to New Zealand within six months of the border reopening.
Hand sanitiser being available, sufficient cleaning and sanitisation, and social
distancing enforced in public spaces are top health priority measures for those considering a trip here.
Masks being required in public places were down the list in the research.
Pre-Covid, Australians spent $2.7b a year and were valued in the regions because 70 per cent embarked on self-drive holidays and were likely to return three to four times in their lifetime.
Of all international arrivals who skied, 71 per cent were from Australia.
Airlines have long worked out a plan to fly the Tasman and to the Cook Islands and are 95 per cent ready to go.
Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of the Board of Airlines New Zealand, says the final parts will be put in place once the date for quarantine-free transtasman travel is announced.
"Our members are reporting pent-up demand, especially from people with family or friends in Australia and the Cook Islands," Tighe-Umbers says.
"They have all heard plenty of stories of events like weddings being delayed, babies not meeting grandparents and families and friends missing each other. Transtasman travel really needs to start in April."
The number of airlines flying passengers to New Zealand has reduced from 30 to 12 and direct connections to cities overseas have dropped from 44 to 17, with more routes under threat.
''The logistics of rebooting aviation are complex, but airlines are ready to take off as soon as the Government gives us the green light. Members are certainly hoping the start date will be no longer than three weeks after April 6.''