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Tourists arriving in Australia for first time in almost two years

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Tourists arrived in Australia for the first time in almost two years on Monday after the country lifted its travel restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals.

Australia barred tourists from entering the country in March 2020 in an effort to tame the spread of COVID-19 within the country, according to The Associated Press. Passengers who wanted to visit the country had to submit an application to be exempted from the travel moratorium. Tourism, however, was not a permitted reason for entering the country, according to the AP.

Australia eased its travel restrictions late last year — allowing international students, skilled migrants and tourists from New Zealand, Japan and South Korea in — though the remaining regulations were dropped for fully vaccinated travelers on Monday, according to the AP.

Travelers arriving at the airport in Sydney were welcomed with toy koalas and a variety of the country’s favorite foods, including Tim Tams chocolate cookies and Vegemite spread, according to the AP.

Fifty-six international flights are expected to land in Australia within the initial 24 hours of the border restrictions being lifted, the AP reported, citing Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Dan Tehan, Australia’s minister for trade, tourism and investment, said he believes “there’ll be a very strong rebound in our tourism market,” according to the news wire.

“Our wonderful experiences haven’t gone away,” he added.

Australia reported more than 17,000 new COVID-19 cases and 34 deaths on Monday, according to the AP. Since the beginning of the pandemic it has recorded more than 2.6 million infections and upward of 4,700 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Karen Andrews, Australia’s minister for home affairs, said the country would check the vaccination status of all travelers before they arrive in the country to prevent a situation similar to the Novak Djokovic incident from occurring, according to the AP.

The tennis star’s visa was canceled after he arrived in the country for the Australian Open because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tags Australia COVID-19 restrictions Tourism travel restrictions
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