Pre-Covid, Australia was New Zealand's largest international tourism market and in 2019, Aussies spent $2.6 billion in New Zealand.
So it's not surprising that Rotorua tourism operators are looking forward to once again hosting tourists from Australia after a long 12 months.
"For us with Easter and the school holidays falling within the same six-week period, this would be the busiest six weeks of business until next Christmas, without the transtasman bubble," Paul Button from Rotorua Canopy Tours said.
"We're looking forward to seeing them back for the school holidays," Polynesian Spa's Gert Talijaard said.
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"We're looking forward to seeing them back visiting friends and family, which we are expecting will most probably be the first batch of visitors that we see through, which is families reconnecting with their families."
While the expected influx of international visitors is undoubtedly a lifeline, business owners want to thank Kiwis who've kept them afloat.
"New Zealand supported New Zealand incredibly well over the last 13 months and we've appreciated every person that's come through this door," Button said, and Talijaard echoed the sentiment.
"New Zealanders have been fantastic supporters of our business, as well as our city during the last 12 months," he said. "It's been incredibly difficult at times but we so appreciate those who have taken their time and spent their money in our city and spent their money in our businesses. It's helped us to maintain employment for our people."
But now they're preparing to say to the wave of Aussies arriving soon "kia ora, nau mai, haere Mai, welcome to Rotorua".
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