On Monday the 21st of February the drawbridge came down on ‘Fortress Australia’ after 100 weeks of self-imposed isolation.
For the first time since March 2020 vaccinated non-residents and international travellers can enter Australia quarantine-free, without a travel exemption. There were approximately 1.2 million visa holders who until today were locked out of the country.
“We are going from COVID cautious to COVID confident when it comes to travel” said the prime minister Scott Morrison.
Preparing to travel to Australia?
Make sure you are prepared when you plan your move to Australia. Find out exactly what you need to do before you travel to Australia in my Covid-19 post, which covers the below:
– Check if you are exempt from Australia’s travel restrictions
– Check if you can access reduced quarantine requirements
– Obtain your foreign vaccination certificate
– Complete a Digital Passenger Declaration within 72 hours before your flight
– Undertake a pre-departure COVID-19 test
– Documentation you will need at the airport
A modest 56 flights were scheduled to arrive in Australia’s international airports on Monday, however that number is predicted to pick up.
Skyscanner reported a 200% increase in bookings following the Australian border announcement. Tourists from the UK, Germany, India and Ireland were leading the charge with March being a peak period for searches.
Driving demand and telling tourists that Australia was open for business was a new ad campaign. The national tourism board for Australia is known for quirky ‘slogans’ and big budget celebrity endorsements. However Tourism Australia said it would be keeping it simple for the restart.
‘Go Australia’ is a more modest advert focusing on natural landscapes to woo long-haul travellers.
“This new campaign is just the first step in a long-term strategy to restart tourism to Australia,” said Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan. There would be further investment in local tourism campaigns for the second half of the year, he said.
The tourism body has spent money on blockbuster advertising placement rather than on the salaries of those appearing in the TV spots.
Opening this week in Piccadilly Circus and New York City’s Times Square and a wall of the Australian Embassy in Paris, the total cost of the campaign is $42 million.
“I think it’s very important to make sure their money is being spent in the right place,” David Flynn from Executive Traveller told 9 News.
“Because rather than spending up big on celebrities and gimmicks they want to spend on exposure and eyeballs — reaching those people who they want to bring to Australia.”
Prior to the Pandemic the tourism body copped flack for spending $15 million on a TV spot featuring Kylie Monogue alongside sport stars. $1 million of this was reportedly paid to the Australian pop star.
The musical advert dubbed ‘Matesong’ was pulled just weeks after airing due to the wildfire season. Check it out:
The Australian announcement of quarantine-free travel was music to the ears of all travellers and tourism operators, but less so in New Zealand.
For Kiwi tourism operators it’s “Go Australia, Slow Aotearoa”.
At the beginning of the month Destination Queenstown’s outgoing chief executive Paul Abbot said that Australia’s opening up put New Zealand at a disadvantage.
“The Australian announcement puts up behind the 8 ball for both workers and visitors,” he said, adding it would “reinforce the perception that NZ is no longer an easy place to visit.”
New Zealand’s own plans to reopen would see international tourists return as soon as July, but currently those entering the country would need self-isolate for 7 days. Having to spend a week of your holiday in isolation is unlikely to appeal to tourists. Particularly with Australia, and other destinations already opening up.
Fully vaccinated visa holders can enter all states and territories quarantine-free from 21 February 2022, except for Western Australia.
Leisure travellers must be fully vaccinated and present a negative test result from prior to travelling and a Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before travel.
PCR results must be from 72 hours prior to departure, and RAT tests must be completed 24 hours prior to departure.
New Zealand’s borders will reopen to New Zealand citizens and residents and other eligible travellers under current border settings from Australia at 11:59pm on 27 February 2022. For further details visit covid19.govt.nz.
The country imposed some of the world’s strictest travel bans after shutting itself off in March 2020 due to Covid. Australians and some New Zealanders were allowed to return from late last year, but most foreigners have had to wait.
There were tearful reunions at Sydney Airport on Monday as hundreds of people began arriving on flights. One young girl, Charlotte, shared an emotional hug with her grandfather. She told the local Nine Network: “I’ve missed him so much and I’ve looked forward to this trip for so long.”
Double-jabbed visitors do not need to quarantine, but unvaccinated travellers quarantine in a hotel for up to 14 days at their own expense.
More than 50 international flights were due to land on Monday.
Travellers can enter all states except Western Australia, which remains closed until 3 March and will require three jabs.
“What wonderful, wonderful news for our tourism industry and the 660,000 people employed in it,” said Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan.
Australia had about 9.5 million overseas visitors in 2019. Mr Tehan said he hoped for a strong rebound in the tourism sector, which has been hit by domestic travel bans too.
The country’s strict measures drew criticism for separating families and stifling businesses. However, they were credited with preventing many deaths before vaccines were available. Australia has had about 4,900 Covid deaths.