07 Oct 2021
Foreign visitors won’t be allowed entry into Australia until at least 2022, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this week.
The PM unveiled plans for easing some of the world’s strictest and longest travel curbs, but is prioritising the return of students and skilled migrants.
The news came just days after Morrison announced plans to permit Australian citizens and permanent residents to travel overseas as from next month, for the first time since March 2020.
The tough travel restrictions have resulted in the lowest level of immigration since World War II. Universities in the country, which rely on fees from international students, have been heavily impacted.
Following the relaxing of restrictions on Australians, the Prime Minister said the next priority is students and skilled migrants, although he didn’t state when they would be permitted entry.
“We will get to international visitors as well, I believe next year,” Morrison said.
The Australian Tourism Export Council wants international tourists to return to the country by March. The sector generated A$45 billion a year from overseas visitors before the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism operators in Australia – who have suffered with the international tourism ban as well as internal border restrictions - remain frustrated at the lack of details as to how and when leisure travel will return.
“International tourist arrivals have to be part of the plan,” stated Daniel Gschwind, chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council. “Even if they’re not the first priority, we’d like to see how this is going to be worked out. There are many businesses that are just hanging on.”
Gschwind went on to add that the sector needed to work on managing the Covid risk, via rapid testing and self-isolation.
Last week Scott Morrison said the government would work toward “complete quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so.”