Welcome back: Australia reopens to double-vaccinated international travellers

Welcome back: Australia reopens to double-vaccinated international travellers

After closing international borders almost two years ago, Australia is welcoming double-vaccinated travellers into the nation as 56 flights touch down in the country today.

While passengers must take a rapid-antigen test (RAT) or PCR test within 24 hours of their arrival, they are only required to quarantine until they receive a negative result.

The mandate applies to most states and territories - with the exception of Western Australia, which will require international arrivals to undertake a rapid antigen test within 12 hours of arriving from 3 March. On the same date, WA will also open its borders to triple-dosed interstate travellers. 

The first flight into Sydney touched down from Los Angeles at 6:20am and was followed by arrivals from Tokyo and Vancouver.

Qantas Group (ASX: QAN) CEO Alan Joyce said bookings had been strong since the government announced the country was opening to international visitors, with today’s arrivals to be the first of many.

“It’s fair to say we’ve all been waiting a long time to welcome visitors back to Australia. The thousands of international tourists arriving this week and many more over the coming months will help kickstart the tourism industry which has done it tough for the past couple of years,” Joyce said.

“We’re in this position today thanks to the millions of Australians who rolled up their sleeves to get the jab and give the Australian Government and state and territory governments’ confidence that we can safely reopen to the world.

“We can clearly see from the Australian Government’s announcement that people are very keen to come back to Australia, and we continue to see strong bookings out of the US and UK, as well as South Africa and Canada.”

Unvaccinated travellers who do not hold medical exemptions must enter hotel quarantine for seven to 14 days, depending on which state or territory they arrive in.

For example, New South Wales has mandated a seven-day hotel quarantine period for unvaccinated arrivals, whilst South Australia has a 14-day quarantine in place.  

There are approximately 1.23 million student, visitor and working holiday maker visa holders offshore who, if vaccinated, will be able to travel into Australia.

The return of double international visitors is welcome news for Australia's tourism sector, which supports 660,000 jobs and contributed $60.4 billion to the economy in 2018-19.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said the return of international arrivals was an important step in Australia's COVID-19 recovery.

“Australia's health and economic response to the pandemic has been among the best in the world, with one of the highest vaccination rates and low mortality,” he said.

“We are successfully managing the pandemic and learning to live with the virus. Australians are travelling overseas, and we are welcoming international visitors to our country.

“International tourists will come here to see our iconic attractions, sample our world-leading food and drink, learn about our Indigenous culture, and enjoy the Australian way of life.”

Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison said the tourism industry has been looking forward to the return of international tourists.

“At Tourism Australia we are so excited to be welcoming back international visitors who make up a critical part of our visitor economy,” Harrison said.

“We know Australia remains an incredibly desirable destination for international visitors and we can’t wait to once again share all of the unforgettable tourism experiences we have to offer here in Australia.”

Australia launches new national brand

In the lead up to the border reopening, the federal government announced a new national brand that features a kangaroo and the tagline “Only in Australia.”

Co-created with indigenous designers, the brand elements are inspired by ancient stories from the Dreaming – which is an indigenous religion and worldview – and embody the spirit of Yamulhu awara ambirriju, meaning ‘Good country up ahead, good feeling for the future’ in the Yanyuwa language spoken by families in Borroloola in the Northern Territory.

More than 300 marketing resources will be available for free to help Australian businesses attract overseas investment and visitors.

Australia's Nation Brand logo

Development was led by Australia’s Nation Brand Advisory Council, including business leaders such as Fortescue Metals (ASX: FMG) and Future Industries Chair Andrew Forrest AO, Atlassian co-founder and CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, and Vogue, GQ and Publisher Prestige editor-in-chief Edwina McCann. 

“In an increasingly connected and competitive international market, celebrating our unique Australian character with a unified and strong Nation Brand will help us stand out from the pack and the tagline ‘Only in Australia’ will amplify Australia’s reputation for quality, creativity and innovation,” said brand advisory council chair Dr Forrest.

The federal, state and territory governments were consulted through the process, as well as more than 480 senior industry representatives and 22,000 people in Australia.

More than 350 Australian organisations have already taken the national brand and tagline on board.

Updated at 4.44pm AEDT on 21 February 2022.

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