Australia blocking foreign tourists until at least 2022, prime minister says
Australia is blocking foreign tourists until at least 2022, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Tuesday.
“We will get to international visitors as well, I believe next year,” Morrison said when discussing lifting more pandemic restrictions, The Associated Press reported.
Australia has had some of the toughest travel restrictions among democracies during the pandemic, with virtually all foreign travel banned since March 2020.
Before lifting restrictions for tourists, Morrison said his government is going to look to get international students and skilled migrants into the country.
The Australian Tourism Export Council wants to have international travel up and running by March of next year, but it is unclear what kind of quarantine rules could remain in place, potentially hindering the tourism industry.
Morrison said he wants “complete quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so.”
The travel restrictions have taken a toll on the country, as half the population was born overseas or has one immigrant parent, according to the AP. Universities have also been hit hard, as fees from international students are crucial to their operation.
More than 9.3 million tourists visited Australia in 2019, an all-time high. That number dropped 6.5 million in 2020 and is expected to fall further this year.
Morrison announced earlier in the month that fully vaccinated Australians will be allowed to leave the country in November, after the country hits 80 percent fully vaccinated.