Northland tourism operators are tentatively optimistic about the future of the industry, touting a post Covid-19 world as the perfect chance to "see your own backyard".
It's been six weeks since New Zealand's borders were slammed shut to the rest of the world in a bid to protect Kiwis from the novel coronavirus.
Tourism ground to a halt, the country went into lockdown, and there were predictions that 100,000 jobs and $2 billion of tourism spending could be lost.
But Northland tourism industry leaders and operators are quietly hopeful.
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Northland Inc destination general manager Tania Burt said there are big opportunities for domestic travel in the short to medium term.
There is currently a big push within the region to work together to boost travel, first within Northland then to the rest of New Zealand, she said.
The regional economic development agency is talking to various groups including business associations, councils, marketing groups and national bodies about ways to collaborate on marketing initiatives which will be determined by alert levels.
"Everyone wants to get marketing up and running to stimulate interest in travel to Northland," Burt said.
"What we would like to see is a more collaborative approach to getting locals to stay, spend and visit their own regions, then get New Zealanders to stay, spend and visit their own country.
"Then when the borders open, New Zealand is well positioned as a safe country due to the way we've dealt with Covid-19.
"There's no doubt tourism has been hit hard but everyone is talking about supporting each other and that's where we find the hope."
Tourism is one of Northland's largest industries, and the fourth largest contributor to our regional GDP at 7.6 per cent.
It is responsible for 8205 jobs, making up 11 per cent of Northland's workforce.
Visitor spending contributes $1.1 billion each year to the Northland economy with domestic visitors accounting for 76 per cent of the spend.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds chief executive Greg McManus said all marketing for the birthplace of the nation will be aimed at the domestic market for the rest of the year.
This will "encourage Kiwis to come to the north to visit the nation's most important historic site when they can't travel overseas".
McManus said some operators will have to look at their pricing, as tourism was aimed at the international market which was too expensive for most Kiwis.
Having lower prices for locals, or offering discounts as the Treaty Grounds and Auckland Museum does, will have to be considered, he said.
The Treaty Grounds offers New Zealanders a 50 per cent discount on day passes, while Auckland Museum is free for Aucklanders and asks for a donation for all other Kiwis.
Overall McManus is hopeful for the future of tourism.
"People are pre-programmed to want to travel so it will come back," he said.
"But we won't be seeing international visitors in large numbers until there's a vaccine. In the meantime, New Zealanders will get the opportunity to see their own backyard."
McManus and Burt said recent discussions around opening borders between New Zealand and Australia were also positive.
Auckland International Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood recently said if both countries maintain success in containing the spread of the virus within their own borders, there could be an opportunity to open borders to one another.
International visitors to Northland make up 24 per cent of the annual spend and come mostly from Australia, followed by the UK, the rest of Europe, the US and Germany.
Burt said we must be realistic about the severity of the fallout of Covid-19.
"Visitors aside there's no opportunity for income at the moment.
"There's a huge variety of operators who have gone through staff losses and will have to make decisions once the wage subsidy comes to an end.
"If no further support is offered, we could see a number of business not surviving.
"We have to stay hopeful and we also have to be realistic. How this affects large and small operators is going to be different. We'd love to see our industry come out intact, but we're going to need further Government support to do that."
Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said he is holding regular discussions with Tourism New Zealand regarding the next steps in restarting the tourism industry.
He also plans a series of regional Zoom meetings including with operators in Tai Tokerau.
"A lot of ideas are coming in from the industry, which is great, and there will be a chance for all these ideas to get heard," Davis said.
Davis said while it's too early yet to state what the tourism restart will look like, Northland has an opportunity "to ask ourselves how we might do things differently".
"Very few countries are at the stage of planning for longer-term recovery of their tourism industries.
"New Zealand is one of the few countries that is beginning this early. We have a real opportunity to plan what our tourism offering looks like."
Hone Mihaka of Taiamai Tours Heritage Journeys said he is thinking about how to leverage and adjust his business, which runs waka tours in the Waitangi river up to Haruru Falls.
He is confident small to medium tourism operators will recover.
"I think things will bounce back," Mihaka said.
"For Māori cultural tourism moving forward to the future, things are looking bright.
"This thing has levelled the playing field somewhat. Without the small business operators, the big guys wouldn't exist."
Mihaka said the lockdown has been positive for the planet.
"I know people are worried about how we'll recover, but papatūānuku [earth mother] has been given a bit of a rest.
"It's pretty clear that pollution levels have dropped around the world. Once the gates open again Northland is going to be a place where people will want to come to. We're well positioned to leverage off that clean green, earth mother image."
Russell resident Colette Kershaw is gearing up to promote domestic travel with the Northland region.
Kershaw, a booking agent at Russell Booking and Information Centre, is putting together a mini-tour package for locals in a bid to support local operators and to create new products when life gets back to normal under alert level 1.
While normally her business would be 80 per cent international bookings, like many others, she will have to target the local market to survive.
Her first package will be a four-day "mini coach holiday" of Northland with the help of Russell Mini Tours.
The tour includes cycling part of the Twin cycle trail from Opua to Kaikohe and Horeke, soaking in Ngawha hot springs, dinner at LeftBank in Kaikohe, visiting Wairere boulders, Tane Mahuta and Waitangi Treaty Grounds and a cruise on Ranui around the Hokianga Harbour.
She plans on filming the experience to promote to other regions around New Zealand.
Kershaw encourages residents to "enjoy our own backyard".
"We've been in lockdown so long, so whenever we can start to resume travel, experience what you've got around us.
"People had such rushed lives before all of this and there will be people in Russell who haven't been to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds or seen Tane Mahuta.
"If you have got funds to go on a holiday then do your own back yard to begin with."