Clarity needed over when overseas visitors will return

While Australia’s international border will begin softening in November with international flights set to take off to select countries midway through the month, overseas visitors will likely not be welcomed back until well into next year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined the government’s vision for border opening, with citizens and permanent residents looking to return home first to arrive from November, as long as they are fully vaccinated.

The return of skilled migrants and international students are the next priority for the government.

As far as overseas tourists were concerned, Morrison said it would be sometime next year. Under current measures any visitors would have to undergo seven day quarantine, which all but rules out most.

The Australian Tourism Export Council wants to see tourists back by March to give the inbound tourism industry an opportunity to recover.

“While the announcement is the first step in the reopening, giving the green light to Australian’s wanting to travel overseas, it marks a shift in thinking within both the Government and community sentiment to re-engaging with the world,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

Tourism Research Australia data showed the tourism industry had taken a $100 billion hit from the pandemic.

“It’s critical that the Government now provides clarity around the policy decisions impacting the restart of inbound travel and to extend financial support for the damaged tourism export sector,” Shelley said.

Daniel Gschwind, chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, told the Associated Press it’s important international tourists are “part of the plan”.

“Even if they’re not the first priority, we’d like to see how this is going to be worked out,” he said. “There are many businesses that are just hanging on.”