A Nowra travel agent has welcomed the Trans Tasman bubble between Australia and New Zealand with open arms, saying the industry's survival depends on borders opening.
Announced by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday, the bubble will allow Australians to travel to New Zealand from April 19 without mandatory hotel quarantine.
Owner and manager of My Travel Expert Leonie Clay said she had been waiting for the announcement since last year.
"We've been waiting for the travel bubble for quite some time. There's been a lot of talk about it, but the big question was when," she said.
"We're not going to see ourselves as a business return to any sort of normal for a very very long time until sales process and as borders start opening bit by bit.
"No one has booked in for New Zealand yet, but I've had lots of people asking over the last six months when the border would be opening, so I'm sure they'll start coming in. And everyone's very excited about it."
Ms Clay stressed the importance of supporting local travel agents.
"We've had no income since March. If people only book online, we won't have local travel agents anymore," she said.
"The JobKeeper has ended for us, as it has for everyone else. But the problem for us is we're still affected by COVID.
"This is the first time since March that we've had an international border open. So we've only been dealing with cancellations, amendments, credits and rebookings since January of 2020 because flights for China and Hong Kong were affected then, too."
Ms Ardern warned people to be prepared for their travel plans to be changed at short notice, including landing and going into hotel quarantine, in her announcement yesterday.
"Those undertaking travel on either side of the ditch will do so under the guidance of flyer beware," she said.
"People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak."
Ms Clay said she understood the precautions and welcomed the traffic light system implemented by Ms Ardern.
"People have to remember that there are rules and restrictions with it. Jacinda Ardern has done a wonderful job in introducing the traffic light system, I think it makes sense and that it's a good way of doing things."
A green light means flights to and from New Zealand can occur without having to quarantine.
The orange light will see flights between the affected state or states paused for up to 72 hours. This will occur where there is a case of an unknown source.
The red light will see a state enter a longer-term lockdown. This will occur when there are multiple cases of an unknown source.
Ms Clay said she hoped people would feel more comfortable with travel as more become vaccinated.
"The sooner vaccines happen, the better. Because then I think everybody will finally gain some confidence to step back on a plane," she said.
"As soon as someone doesn't do the right thing, the borders will come tumbling down again."
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