Kiwis are making Rotorua one of their first getaway destinations this Queen's Birthday weekend.
And to ensure businesses benefit from its popularity residents are urged to act as ambassadors for the city.
Rotorua Moteliers Association chairman and owner of the Arista of Rotorua Motel and Capri on Fenton, Mike Gallagher said both of his businesses, along with about three others welcomed their first full night since the Covid-19 lockdown last Saturday.
This weekend, Gallagher said while there was still some vacancies, the city's motels were filling up, with strong bookings overall.
"Overall, Rotorua will look forward to a really busy weekend," he said.
"I think people will be keen to get out of the house."
At this stage being the last long weekend until Labour weekend, Gallagher said a thriving city was vital.
He said he was encouraging all moteliers to send their guests to the Rotorua i-Site as a one-stop-shop for information about what's open to encourage spending across the city.
While the weekends are looking good for motels again, mid-week business is struggling, he said. That is also being felt in hotels.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa Rotorua Hotel Sector chairman and Copthorne Hotel Rotorua general manager Blair Chalmers said after a tough few months hotels were looking forward to having some people around.
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He said three of the city's hotels were still closed and others were operating to about 50 per cent capacity due to staffing levels.
He said Covid-19 had forced hotels to restructure their businesses, which meant losing staff members.
He said of the 1850 hotel rooms in Rotorua, about 900 were operating, with about half of those booked for this long weekend.
Destination Rotorua chief executive Michelle Templer said after a tough few months, the first long weekend since moving to level 2 was "shaping up to be a busy one for Rotorua".
"A number of accommodation providers are already reporting strong bookings for the weekend and while there are still some rooms left, reservations are coming in fast," Templer said.
She said the "vibrancy" of Rotorua after lockdown was starting to return and hoped locals would become "ambassadors for the city, encouraging friends and family to visit this weekend and in the weeks ahead".
"The support we're seeing from New Zealanders making Rotorua their first getaway destination after lockdown is really appreciated by the retail, tourism and hospitality businesses here."
"There's also an important role for locals to play in supporting businesses and exploring the wealth of activities and attractions that we have on our doorstep."
Among them is Rotorua's Volcanic Air and general manager Steven Newland who said he has started noticing people walking around the city again.
He said being reliant on domestic tourism post-Covid-19 lockdown, they have looked at how they could appeal more to that market.
This week the company released a new service from their Rotorua Lakefront base that includes a short scenic flight over the city before landing on Lake Rotoiti for a soak in the Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools, which are accessible only by water, and returning to base.
Yesterday, they had their first customers for that experience.
"You really have to realign your focus on what products are going to be good for Kiwis," Newland said.
"Tourism is a team sport."
He said people are about in Rotorua at the moment, and having received a lot of feedback and inquiries about their new service, he had his fingers crossed for some good weather this long weekend.
"It's great to see so many people from out of town coming."
According to the Metservice, there will be rain tomorrow, Sunday and Monday, with temperatures ranging from 8-16 degrees C during the weekend.