Australia has stolen a march on New Zealand tourism authorities, swinging into action ahead of the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble.
From Monday, New Zealand will join Australia in scrapping quarantine restrictions for travellers across the Tasman Sea.
That move, more than a year after border closures, will see a flood of separated families and friends reuniting.
Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand expect to fly about 10,000 people on trans-Tasman routes on Monday alone.
The restoration of regular travel links also fires the starters gun on a battle for international tourism.
And on that front, Australia appears streets ahead.
Last week, Tourism Australia launched a $A3.1 million campaign to Kiwis inviting them to “Be The First” international travellers back to Australia.
With splashes of Australiana like the “red carpet” of Uluru, Tasmanian seafood and Quokka selfies, the campaign will run in print, radio, television and outdoor advertising for the next three months.
Kiwi breakfast television will run segments live from New South Wales and South Australia over the next week, two states which will also run their own advertising aiming to lure Kiwis to their patch.
“While the travel bubble won’t fill the void of all lost international business, it will provide an important boost to our industry by helping to drive demand to some of those areas that need it most,” Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said.
On the numbers, Australia is the favourite travel destination for Kiwis, with 1.4 million trips in 2019 bringing a total spend of $2.6 billion.
In 2019, 1.7 million Kiwis travelled overseas to other countries, and Ms Harrison hopes to steer them to Australia.
“After a year of almost no international travel, there is a real opportunity for us to capture pent up demand.”
Surprisingly, NZ is yet to launch a similar campaign.
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash told AAP that NZ’s formal promotion would begin later this month.
“I’ve seen it. It’s a fantastic campaign I think it will tickle the imagination in Australia and potential Australian tourists,” he said.
Mr Nash ruled out following Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who undertook a spree of Australian media interviews when she announced the opening of the bubble, with a similar charm offensive.
“She’s well known over there. I think they’d go Stuart Nash who?” he said.
“From some of the research I’ve been privy to, a lot of Australians are quite keen to sort of move out and go on holiday and New Zealand obviously is the only place they can go.
“I’m hoping though they’ll translate that aspiration into action.”
NZ’s delay has some basis in strategy.
The country has two weeks of school holidays beginning on Monday, requiring haste from Australian authorities to make the most of their time off.
And tourism experts either side of the ditch believe the majority of early flyers are likely to be “VFR” – visiting friends and relatives – travellers who would have undertaken travel regardless.
Both countries are targeting their campaigns towards regional places which have been hardest hit by the slump in tourism.