The Cook Islands travel bubble will resume as planned on 14 January, with the first group of fully vaccinated travellers set to arrive across the dateline at 1:30 pm in Rarotonga.
On Friday the Cook Islands will lift their pause on travel from New Zealand which has been in place since August last year.
"We are ready, we are prepared, and we are protected. Now it's time," said Cook Islands prime minister Mark Brown, last week.
After short intervals of quarantine free travel last year, this time the islands are determined to keep the bubble afloat. This includes new travel conditions such as proof of vaccination and pre-flight testing.
In August last year the Islands mandated a 'no vaccine, no vacation' policy. When travel resumes this week, passengers will also have to produce a negative pre-departure Covid-19 Test.
New rules on mask wearing and proof of vaccination come into effect on Thursday in the islands which, until December, had remained covid free.
"All these measures and more have simply become a way of life for most of the world's population now," said Brown.
Air New Zealand, the first carrier to return, says that they had seen high demand for our quarantine free Cook Islands flights with daily services resuming from Friday. They are anticipating that this will increase closer to the peak winter travel season.
"Given there is some availability on services from late January onwards we are not planning to schedule additional services at this time," said a spokesperson for the airline.
From 1 February the airline will require all travellers to be fully vaccinated.
Cook Islands Tourism says they are expecting demand to grow for the peak winter period.
"Bookings are steady for the summer months and climbing heavily from April onwards," said Graeme West, the general manager for Australasia.
Jetstar intends to return from April with flights scheduled from Auckland.
Throughout recent disruption from new Covid-19 strains and clusters in New Zealand - the Cooks have remained the only international travel destination not on MFAT's "do not travel" advisory.
Domestic links to Aitutaki and other resort islands have also seen an uptick in demand through April.
Ewan Smith, managing director for Air Rarotonga, said that they had been operating an average of a third of normal capacity since 2020.
"The through bookings on the Air New Zealand codeshare pick up as of this Thursday look like they will give Aitutaki accommodation operators good business," said Smith.
Cook Islands Tourism said the islands had done a "stunning job" in vaccinating their population with 99 per cent of the population over 12 fully vaccinated.
Currently New Zealand is the only country with a quarantine-free travel arrangement with the Cook Islands.
Last year the Lonely Planet nominated the Cook Islands as the world's number one destination to visit in 2022.
New travel conditions for travelling to the Cook Islands
Vaccinated travellers, over 12 only
All visitors must be fully vaccinated. Children under 12 years will not be able to travel. Once the cohort 5-11 years of age are eligible to be vaccinated and can provide proof of travel, they will be allowed to visit.
Covid-19 test required before departure
Travellers must provide a negative PCR test result no more than 48 hours before departure and show the negative result at departure and on arrival.
Additional tests for Aitutaki
Travel to Aitutaki is permitted with no further test required for connecting travel straight through from Rarotonga. If travellers are staying any number of days in Rarotonga prior to going to Aitutaki, they will be required to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test before boarding.
Contact tracing and pre-arrival forms
Visitors will be required to complete a Cook Islands contact form within 96 hours before departing New Zealand. Travellers will be required to download the Cooksafe+ contact tracing app and will be given a personal QR code on arrival, to be used in the Cook Islands.