The promised return of a Tasmanian air bridge for the first time in 20 years has caused a huge pivot in interest not only in travellers but travel companies.
According to premier Gutwein, Tasmania had welcomed 25,000 Kiwis a year across the ditch, even without a direct route. With direct flights from Auckland twice weekly due to come online, it is expected that there will be a huge increase in demand.
"I'm sure New Zealanders will be very keen to fly directly here, travel around the state and see what we have to offer," Gutwein told ABC over the weekend.
Direct flights from Christchurch to Hobart were abandoned over two decades ago, due to lack of "viability". However, after a year of pent-up demand and a lack of competition, this could be a change in fortunes for Tasmania.
The Premier was impressed by the speed of the operation mid-pandemic, predicting the first Auckland arrivals "around Anzac Day".
The novelty factor of international travel and access to a part of Australia which was difficult to get to, could be the remaking of Tasmania.
On Friday, Air New Zealand boss Greg Foran announced the new services' potential to bring in overseas visitors to Queenstown and Rotorua.
"Our Hobart - Auckland route will open a direct link between 540,000 potential Tasmanian tourists and our biggest city," he said.
However, it is expected that the balance of interest will be in the other direction. Plane seats will be overwhelmingly booked Kiwi travellers, to the island with a third the population of Auckland.
Travel agencies are pivoting their focus from elsewhere to this part of Australia which was considered a difficult sell.
Auckland-based First Light Travel which had previously been focused on North American travel has put its focus on Australia, and Tasmania in Particular.
"People talk about the need to 'pivot' your business – but it's tougher than it sounds," said the company's co-founder Brent Narbey. Tasmania is an amazing place and the prospect of direct flights to a destination that's come through COVID-19 with a record similar to New Zealand's is very attractive."
It's a considerably smaller operation but Tasmania has become the new crux of their focus, given the island's record vs Mainland Australia.
However, the reopening of state borders and changeable Covid 19 situation in Australia and New Zealand have made Narbey cautious. "The recent Alert Level 3 lockdown in Auckland underlines the uncertainty travellers face. It's important for travel businesses to be flexible in the face of customer's uncertainty."
With an announcement expected today regarding the government's roadmap for a two-way Transtasman bubble, it remains to be seen what options Kiwi travellers will have.
However, with the announcement of direct flights, Tasmania may have stolen the march on other, traditionally more popular Aussie destinations.
Tasmania Tourism Industry Council chief Luke Martin said the link had been 20 years in the making, calling it a "great opportunity".
The increase of Kiwi visitors was inevitable, Martin told ABC, "as soon as you bring on a direct flight."
For the first time in 20 years Hobart is top of Kiwi travellers bucket lists, and it has never looked so appealing.
Brent Narbey's top tips for Tasmania
Travel agent Brent Narbey on what Kiwis have been missing out on for the last 20 years.
Over half of the island is conservations land, with long-distance trails such as the Overland Track bringing visitors from around the world. "My favourite track is the Dove Lake Circuit – it's an easy starter and the photos are magic."
"There are nine licensed whisky distilleries across Tasmania – and they've earned a reputation for world-class single malts," says Narbey. The bottles also make handy souvenirs "Remember duty free?"
Hobart has made its name as an offbeat culture capital. The city is home to the MONA gallery and art festivals such as the Dark Mofo, but Narbey advises Kiwis to venture beyond the fringe.
"There's art beyond Hobart, like in Sheffield, in the northwest – they call it the Town of Murals because the walls are covered in cool public art, much of it inspired by the wild surrounds."
There's plenty on Tassie's plat to keep you coming back for more. The seafood, Leatherwood honey and truffles are firm favourites.
"The treats in Tassie will blow you away. My favourite: scallop pie."