Dubbo residents will soon be able to take a trip to New Zealand without quarantining under a two-way travel bubble set to start within a fortnight.
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday afternoon announced details of the long-awaited arrangement that is Australia's first two-way travel bubble since COVID-19 brought the industry to a standstill a year ago.
Trips for family reunions, holidays or business can start from 11.59pm on Sunday April 18, Ms Ardern announced.
At 3.15pm Qantas announced it and Jetstar would operate up to 122 return flights per week across the Tasman, with flights operating to all pre-COVID NZ destinations and two new routes added.
It's scheduled daily flights from April 19.
Dubbo-based travel agent Sonya Hogan greeted the bubble as the first step back for an industry brought to a "crashing halt".
"I think at long last it will give some confidence back to the industry, and to the travellers," she said.
"I think there's a lot of people sitting there absolutely busting to get away. I know a lot of my clients can't wait to be back travelling again.
"So hopefully with the start of New Zealand opening up, that will be the start of better things to come and that will lead to the Pacific opening, Fiji and places like that, and then further afield to Asia.
"So I think it's going to start giving confidence back to the industry that it needs."
Ms Hogan, who has her own home-based business operating under the MTA - Mobile Travel Agents umbrella, has more than 20 years' experience.
She said the past 12 months had been "extremely hard and challenging" for the industry.
She hadn't been an agent who had charged cancellation fees, so her clients had received "whatever refund" she received back, Ms Hogan said.
She considered she was more fortunate than some because she didn't have a shopfront.
"I think that is probably the only thing that has helped keep my business afloat, is that I don't have those fixed costs," Ms Hogan said.
Also key was she had no employees, she noted.
"Whereas it breaks my heart to look at some of the others, the changes they've had to go through," she said
"I was already working from home, which I know, some of them are doing that now.
"But who would ever have thought the industry could come to a crashing halt like it has.
But who would ever have thought the industry could come to a crashing halt like it has.Travel agent Sonya Hogan
"... that's been a huge thing to comprehend and it's something that's going to be around for a long, long time to come.
"It's not an industry that's just going to bounce back overnight, unfortunately, it's going to take a lot of little steps to get it back.
"And to what degree it comes back, it's going to be interesting to find out."
Ms Hogan suggested the federal government's JobKeeper wage subsidy should have continued for travel agents beyond March 28.
"I'm obviously fortunate enough that I'm a real estate agent as well, so I have a second income," she said.
"But JobKeeper finishing last week is just horrendous for travel agents.
"They really need that as a lifeline."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: