Northland businesses are excited the transtasman travel bubble will open up in less than a fortnight.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand could go ahead from 11.59pm on Sunday April 18.
Ardern said the move represents the start of "a new chapter" in the country's Covid-19 recovery.
"The Director-General of Health considers the risk of transmission of Covid-19 from Australia to New Zealand is low and that quarantine-free travel is safe to commence," she said.
House of Travel Whangārei owner operator Stephen Gillingham said though there were a few bookings "later in the piece" there hadn't been a huge rush of residents buying tickets to Australia.
But he was excited and encouraged a date had been set.
"We anticipate there will be the ramping up of people wanting to book in earnest.
"It's basically the restart of some normalcy for people travelling."
Gillingham said there was "pent-up demand" from those who have family connections in Australia.
"There are people that have missed out on their grandchildren being born and the like.
"There's definitely a desire for that first, and they'll likely take the opportunity to take a holiday.
"The situation in New Zealand is there's only so many places you can go. This will see holidaymakers re-emerge."
Northland Inc destination general manager Tania Burt said the region's tourism industry had been "waiting on tenterhooks" for the date to be announced.
"I talked to a few operators today and they said they had the best Easter they've had in many years.
"But there's only so far the domestic dollar is going to go."
Burt said Australia is the biggest international market for Northland "so it will make a big difference".
The domestic market is usually restricted to long weekends and holidays, whereas international visitors fill the Monday to Friday gap, she said.
Results from a Northland Inc tourism industry survey done in March revealed if borders aren't open in the next 6-12 months, 15 per cent of respondents said they would have to go through some sort of closure, she said.
"We can't wait for much longer... we're going to lose businesses."
While some residents commented on social media that they are ready to travel, others believe New Zealand should wait until Covid vaccinations have been rolled out.
The Government has secured 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, enough for five million people. Most of these vaccines will arrive in the second half of this year.
So far over 16,400 New Zealanders have been fully vaccinated against the virus – about 0.3 per cent of the population.
Paihia-based Salt Air chief executive Grant Harnish said he was "hopeful and excited" about the travel bubble and was confident it could be done safely.
Though Easter was good for business, and before that the Christmas and New Year holiday period, "other than that it's been pretty average".
"It's essential if we want to survive the winter. Without that we're dead in the water.
"If we don't get this Australian connection there's going to be a lot of people looking for work. It's not just Northland, it's right around the country."
Harnish said he was "bitterly disappointed" the government hadn't made the decision earlier.
The government has toyed with the idea of a travel bubble with Australia since last year.
After hopeful plans of a September launch, the bubble was popped due to rising cases in Victoria, followed by clusters in New South Wales and Auckland.
In December Ardern announced Cabinet had agreed in principle to a transtasman bubble being in place in the first quarter of 2021, saying "New Zealanders desperately need a break".
Lynne Bennett from Hello World Travel in Whangārei said people are inquiring about travelling across the ditch.
"They're not looking to go on holiday, more to travel to see grandchildren and family.
"A couple of people have made bookings, but most we've told to hold off until we know all the finer details."
Ardern warned it would be a case of "flyer beware" and people should have a plan for the possibility of an outbreak.
Flights from an Australian state would be paused if there was a lockdown in that state, she said.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said extra layers have been added to manage risk at the border.
"To be eligible to travel to or from New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight, people must not have had a positive Covid-19 test result in the previous 14-day period and must not be awaiting the results of a test taken during that period," he said.
When Australians visit New Zealand, they will be making a booking on a green zone flight. That means that there will be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days.
On arrival, passengers will be taken through "green zones" at the airport, meaning there will be no contact with those who are arriving from other parts of the world.
Passengers will have to wear a mask on flights, and will be asked to use the NZ Covid Tracer app while in New Zealand.
"We will also be undertaking random temperature checks of those arriving as an added precaution," Hipkins said.
Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White welcomed the move.
"We've got our ski season coming up, so we're hoping winter will not be as dark as some businesses were fearing.
"The test will be to see if we can keep the bubble open.
"It's time we learned to live with a bit of risk. We need to balance the health risk with the wider economic risk."