In what will surely be welcome news to the country’s struggling tourism sector, Australia’s borders have re-opened to international tourists for the first time in nearly two years.
The re-opening marked a significant step in Australia’s pandemic recovery plan after the Morrison government shut the borders to all non-citizens and non-residents on March 20, 2020 in an effort to combat the spread of Covid-19.
Under the new rules, all visa holders who are fully vaccinated for international travel purposes can travel to Australia without an exemption. Visa holders who have not received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will still require a valid travel exemption to enter Australia and will be subject to state and territory quarantine requirements.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared “the wait is over” as he urged international tourists to “pack your bags” and visit Australia once again.
“There’s some more than 1.2 million people around the world who are visaed up and they can come. And in the next 24 hours, some 56 flights are going to touch down in Australia, and that number is only going to grow,” he said.
“The wait is over. The tourists are coming back and my message to them is, to tourists all around the world, pack your bags, come and have one of the greatest experiences you could ever imagine – the experience you’ve been waiting for.
“The tourism industry has really borne the brunt of this COVID pandemic, not just here but all around the world, and particular parts of the country have felt it more than others. That’s why I’m excited to know that we’re going from COVID cautious to COVID confident when it comes to travel.”
Managing director of the Australian Tourism Export Council, Peter Shelley told Seven News that “challenge lays ahead” in rebuilding the tourism sector.
“We were the first industry to fully close and will be the last industry to fully reopen and most of our businesses don’t expect to see any significant income from the inbound market until well into next year,” he said.