The COVID-19 pandemic and the forced shutdown of commerce in March last year hit businesses hard, and none harder than the travel industry.

“It was like a tap was suddenly turned off,” said proprietor of helloworld Travel in Narrabri, Jenny Cable.

“Business just stopped.”

The tap has stayed turned off for major overseas air and sea travel and, until fairly recently, most domestic travel.

But a glimmer of hope has emerged for the travel industry with the announcement that quarantine-free flights between Australia and New Zealand will resume on April 18.

The trans-Tasman route is Australia’s busiest international aviation market with more than seven million passengers in the year before the effects of COVID-19 hit.

Mrs Cable is cautiously optimistic.

“Any news is good news,” she said.

“It’s a start.”

But although travel will resume without mandatory quarantine for passengers on both sides of the Tasman, uncertainty about sudden ‘lockdowns’ remains a concern.

“Getting confidence back is the main issue” said Mrs Cable.

New Zealanders have been able to travel to Australia for some time without having to quarantine here, but not vice versa.

New Zealand travel, while very welcome, is not a major part of helloworld’s travel business.

“The major part is travel to destinations like the US, UK, Europe and Asia,” said Mrs Cable.

“But a return to quarantine-free New Zealand-Australia flights is a great first step – although baby steps admittedly.”

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