Across the ditch the Australian government has just offered to subsidise up to 800,000 flights in a $1billion effort to boost regional tourism. But could the scheme work over here?
Canberra is offering half-price tickets to destinations heavily affected by the tourism downturn, such as South Australia's Kangaroo Island. ScoMo is already touting the scheme as regional Australia's "ticket to recovery".
Could New Zealand's own regional airlinks be the key to lifting areas out of the tourism doldrums?
Aotearoa might not be the same country of big skies and long distances as Aussie, but there are places equally in need of a tourism boost.
Parts of our country are notoriously remote. This has been part of the USP for regions such as the West Coast, drawing international tourists for glacier expeditions and nature experiences. But that was in the before times. The loss of inbound travellers has been disastrous. Just this morning, Scenic Hotels told RNZ's Morning Report show that they would be mothballing four more hotels in Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Hotelier Brendan Taylor said he felt that he and the 180 staff had been "thrown under the bus" by the lack of support for isolated areas.
Simply, not enough New Zealanders are getting out to these regions.
The current national tourism campaign is all about encouraging New Zealanders to go off the beaten track. However getting there can be a challenge.
"New Zealand Roads are different" – or so the patronising pamphlets tell us, when picking up rental cars.
A conservative estimate of the drive from Christchurch to Hokitika pegs it at three and a half hours. (Yeah right, Google). It's a further two hours on to Franz Josef.
Few Kiwis have the luxury of being able to spend weeks on the road exploring the country, like their overseas counterparts once did.
But access to regional flights puts the whole country within striking distance of a long weekend.
Might Kiwis be more willing to "do something new", with the offer of a free return flight?
The two daily flights to Hokitika can put Cantabrians on the coast within hours. Though averaging at $450pp, it works out at the equivalent cost of return flight to Rarotonga – was that an option.
Invercargill airport – and its recent jet link from Auckland – puts a day trip to Stewart Island on the cards for Jafas.
True, transient tourists who will parachute in for a day is probably not the approach to foster. There's merit in encouraging visitors to take their time, and properly explore parts of the country who have seen very little through traffic since last year.
However, getting New Zealanders to these regions is half the battle. Why not start by halving air fares?