It’s Good news for the travellers as Australia reopens borders to all remaining visa holders.
Earlier today Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia will reopen our borders to all remaining visa holders on the 21st of February of this year.
After the meeting with the national security cabinet, Morrison said “It’s almost two years since we took the decision to close the borders to Australia.
PM further added that the borders will reopen to all visa holders “on the 21st of February of this year, if you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia.”
Australia’s borders got shut in March 2020 in the hope of protecting the island continent against a surging global pandemic. Since then, Australians have been banned from leaving and only a handful of visitors have been granted exemptions to enter.
The rules have stranded nationals overseas, split families, hammered the country’s multi-billion-dollar tourist industry, and prompted often bitter debates about Australia’s status as a modern, open and outward-looking nation.
Every month of border closures has cost businesses an estimated US$2.6 billion, according to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In recent months, rules have been gradually relaxed for Australians, long-term residents and students. The latest decision will see almost all remaining caps lifted.
It comes after the country’s long-standing “Covid-zero” policy was abandoned, vaccination rates rose and the once stellar track-and-trace system collapsed under a wave of Omicron cases.
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Only a handful of countries remain closed to tourists among them Japan, China, New Zealand and several Pacific Island nations.
For Australia’s travel and tourism sector which struggled as visitor numbers fell almost 98 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels — the news brought elation.
The managing director of the Quicksilver GroupTony Walker said, “We’re very excited about being able to reopen.” He further added, “the last couple of years has been incredibly difficult for us, come visit”.
During the pandemic, the firm went from 650 employees down to the 300 it has today. Walker said he expected “it will take some time to recover” from the past two years.
Many tourism operators around Australia are experiencing staff shortages, given how few backpackers and working holidaymakers are coming to Australia.
Despite the announcement, travel within Australia will still be restricted. The vast state of Western Australia remains closed to most non-residents. It is currently easier to travel from Sydney to Paris than Sydney to Perth.