Whanganui's Cook Islands Community Group chairman Nga Apai is welcoming the opening of the Cook Islands travel bubble with New Zealand.
Apai said people in New Zealand and friends and family in the Cook Islands were pleased the bubble had finally opened yesterday.
"It has taken too long to establish, but we are glad we have got there."
Apai said the cautious approach from the nation's mata'iapo (chief), who were looking to protect the island and its people from Covid-19 potentially entering the country, was one of the main reasons the bubble took so long to establish.
"They basically overruled the situation and was the reason things weren't progressing.
"The population and the businesses wanted it, but the mata'iapo, elders and leaders said no as they were being protective."
He said travellers could be reluctant at first as they may be worried about getting stuck in Rarotonga in the event a Covid-19 case is discovered in the community.
He said they had been working on ways to get fresh produce from the Cook Islands into New Zealand to pump some money back into Cook Islands producers' pockets.
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"The issue with that is the middleman is over-charging. But at least the farmer at the other end is getting some kind of income."
Apai said the Cook Islands economy had struggled massively over the last 15 months with the lack of tourists, who make up a large percentage of the income for the nation.
"Eighty per cent of the economy is related to tourism. I just hope they don't high sell, trying to make back that lost money while they were shut down."
Apai is waiting for his second vaccine shot before he travels home to see his family.
"After that, we are good to go."
He said the locals were excited to welcome back tourists, with some being a bit frustrated with some of the decision making over the last few months.
"There are a lot of celebrations and a lot of welcoming happening in the Cook Islands."