After more than a year without international visitors, the long-awaited trans-Tasman bubble is a major relief for our struggling tourism sector.
There was a shared excitement across Queenstown following this afternoon’s announcement, with mayor Jim Boult “thinking about breaking out some Saturday Night Fever moves”.
“This is the lifeline we needed; this is what we've been asking for. This is the saviour for businesses in this part of the world," he said.
Totally Tourism’s Mark Quickfall called the move “great news - not only for our business but for everybody in tourism”.
“People can make some solid plans, people who were particularly uncertain about their future employment. It’s got to look a lot brighter for them when they go home tonight and get off to bed,” he said.
Totally Tourism runs helicopter trips, cruises and hikes in some of the hardest-hit areas in Queenstown and the West Coast.
Quickfall said it’s been “a difficult year for everybody, so this is some light at the end of the tunnel”.
Australians are also expected to head up the slopes, with around 40 per cent of visitors to the mountains pre-Covid coming from across the ditch.
NZ Ski general manager Paul Anderson said Australians have already booked for some of the events taking place later in the winter season.
“We know there is a lot of demand. We're just really happy to see you over here,” he said to Australians planning the trip over.
Bars and restaurants on the brink of closure are also motivated by the thought of fresh tourists.
“Everybody will just breathe. They'll go, ‘thank God,’” Republic Hospitality’s Tracy Pool said.
“Now we have an aim, now we've got somewhere to go, now it’s time that we can actual make a plan and that we're moving on,” she said.
“This year has been hard and having a plan to move on and that something comes back to more closely to normality - that's what we need.”
Operators remain aware of the risks and say they'll be taking all precautions possible to ensure the bubble remains open.
“We’re all going to have to be on our toes,” Boult said.
“I have a lot of faith in the health system.”