The borders are opening, and a new town centre and airport await tourists arriving in Taupō from August.
The borders have been closed for two years and Taupō District mayor David Trewavas says local tourist operators are looking forward to welcoming back international visitors.
He says domestic tourists have been very good to local operators.
"But the big sales come from the international visitors, they tend to stay on for an extra couple of days."
He is grateful big operators have managed to stay open for the past two years, considering they rely heavily on international visitors.
"Full credit to the tourist businesses that have managed to keep staff on. The district is grateful they managed to stay open through the pandemic."
Tourism operators are also looking forward to the return of seasonal staff, mainly young international travellers, who are critical for keeping Taupō businesses open when staff are sick with Covid-19.
"Around town, a few well-known cafes and bars have had to close their doors for a few days. Wow, whoever thought that would ever happen? It will be great to have international employees back again, to fill the gap," David says.
Air New Zealand recently shared anecdotal booking information and David says he is pretty excited about visitor numbers for the summer ahead.
"Although there is a trend towards older international travellers staying home, it looks like it is the middle-aged travellers who are booking ahead."
Taupō town centre and Taupō airport are currently undergoing a major reconstruction. The roading network through the town has been reconfigured and a people-friendly lakefront boulevard is being built at the moment. The airport terminal is being replaced by a new building with a separate arrivals-departures area and new car parking.
David says the borders being closed has been a window of opportunity for construction to happen at a time when international tourists weren't here and hopefully caused less disruption.
"When the borders open, Taupō will be ready and waiting for the international visitors."
Love Taupō general manager Jane Wilson says Taupō tourism operators are delighted with the news the international borders are reopening.
"It's certainly been a long time coming," she says.
Initial feedback indicates Taupō will be welcoming a number of international visitors later in the year and across the summer.
"We acknowledge it's going to take time to build arrivals over the next two to three years, and it will more likely be a slow trickle rather than a massive influx."
Inquiries from Australia and the United States are particularly strong.
"There have been very positive international bookings for some of our higher-end, luxury products - hunting and fishing experiences where visitors are itching to indulge their passions back here in our beautiful region."
She says it's essential the Government remove the pre-arrival testing into New Zealand.
"This is causing a significant barrier to visitation from Australia and the United States."
Snow on Mt Ruapehu will attract visitors from Australia this winter.
Air New Zealand is yet to release any statistics about bookings for international arrivals. However, international bookings for the Department of Conservation Great Walks show 37 per cent more international visitors had booked a hut or campsite on one of the 10 Great Walks, and accounted for 15 per cent of total bookings made when bookings opened last week. DOC has previously said tourist guides account for just 4 per cent of Great Walk bookings.
Since the border has opened there has been a noticeable uptick in inquiries from potential guests from Australia says Baycrest Thermal Lodge owner Barry Searle.
He says international guests differ from domestic guests in that they tend towards mid to upper-priced accommodation, and they want to spend money on local tourist attractions.
He says April was a huge month for him, and also other accommodation providers in Taupō.
"We blew all records out of the water for April."
Baycrest Thermal Lodge now has strong bookings right through to the end of winter.
Many of his guests are older, because they can't get travel insurance, and they worry about having to cancel so book closer to the time of travel.
"We are also finding we have more walk-ins than ever before.
"Before the pandemic, they would have holidayed in Europe, now they are discovering New Zealand. The older demographic stay an extra night and want to spend their cash."