There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for overseas travel, a Whanganui travel company owner says.
Carla McKinnon of House of Travel (HOT) Whanganui took over the business and became owner operator in January 2019 but, one year later when Covid-19 hit, it almost fell over.
"Over the last few years I've gone from five staff to just me, so we're down to the bones of who's left in the industry," McKinnon said.
She said the hard decisions were out of the industry's hands, and the personal and professional effects were substantial.
"It's just been the life we've been living for the last three years."
HOT Whanganui has had to move premises to ensure the continuation of the business.
"We went from a thriving business that had been operating really successfully for over 30 years, to basically losing the whole business," McKinnon said.
But it had to get better, she said. "Onwards and upwards... finally, we're starting to see that light at the end of the tunnel."
With the Government's travel restrictions eased, McKinnon said there'd been a massive influx of bookings, and people had finally begun to get excited about travel again.
"That's why we're in the industry. We get to be excited with everyone else when they want to plan their wonderful hard-earned holidays, and no one's been able to get excited about anything in the last couple of years until now."
McKinnon had seen a lot of people rebooked to visit family overseas, including elderly parents, or children who were born since the first lockdown - known as lockdown babies.
There's also been a rise in intrepid-style trips booked, with a huge surge of people who have planned for trips to the Cook Islands and Fiji.
"People here are still quite nervous, but you look over in Europe and the UK and United States, people are travelling and acting almost normal with their travel arrangements."
McKinnon said despite the optimistic predictions of overseas travel at the end of 2020, it was quickly dismissed with the additional strains of the virus. This time she was more certain it would continue to get better.
"I know the new world of travel is never going to be the same as what it used to be, but I haven't felt as positive about the future as I do now."
HOT had dealt with a range of situations over the past two years, from clients who were stuck overseas and being denied MIQ spots, to clients still waiting for travel refunds two years later.
The process was ongoing, McKinnon said, and HOT was constantly working with the suppliers and airlines, for clients whose situation may have changed.
Many of the overseas travellers during the last two years had left for urgent situations.
McKinnon said it was more important now than ever to use a travel agent to navigate the constantly changing world of travel.
"Nobody wants to be denied boarding. It's a complicated game at the moment."
The Whanganui branch of agency World Travellers was also contacted for comment.