February 8, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

After closing to international visitors nearly two years ago, Australia’s international border will fully reopen to double vaccinated travellers across all visa categories – including tourists – on February 21, 2022.

“If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia, and I know the tourism industry will be looking forward to that,” said Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison during yesterday’s announcement.

Following the international incident around Novak Djokovic being deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne last month, which made global headlines, Morrison was careful to stress the point around proof of vaccination.

“We just want to stress that you will need to provide that proof of vaccination. Your visa is one thing, but your entry into Australia requires you also to be double vaccinated.

“I think events earlier in the year should have sent a very clear message, I think, to everyone around the world that that is the requirement to enter into Australia.”

The federal minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said those who were not vaccinated and could not provide proof of a medical exemption to vaccination would need to apply for an exemption to travel to Australia.

She said the opening of Australia’s international border was good news for the nation’s tourism industry.

“This means that we will be able to welcome back tourists, business travellers and other visa holders who to date have been unable to enter Australia.

“That is going to be such a welcome relief for our many tourist providers all around Australia.”

While the Australia Tourism Export Council (ATEC) welcomed yesterday’s news, the body said the sector would need more support to recover.

“Australian tourism businesses will rejoice in the news that our borders will reopen to all international travellers on 21 February,” said ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley.

“It’s been a long hard and desperate road for every tourism business across the country and we have lost many along the way, but this news will give those who have survived a clear target to work towards and a start point for the rebuilding of the industry.

“With close to two years with our borders closed our industry has lost tens of billions of dollars in export revenue and we welcome the border reopening as an opportunity to regain some of Australia’s tourism market share.

“Australia is an incredible destination and one that enjoyed a place at the top of the global travel bucket list prior to COVID closing our borders back in March 2020, and we can see a strong future for our industry.

“While other destinations are already back online and welcoming visitors, Australia has been off the global destination list for quite some time and there is significant pent-up demand as we look forward.

“But the challenge for our industry is to meet this demand successfully and that will involve tourism businesses rebuilding their lost capacity, product, service skills and supply chains.

“Given the tourism industry has taken a devastating hit to its skills base, experience, expertise and global sales networks, we urge the government to outline a significant funding commitment to our industry in next month’s budget as a sign of its support for what has been a hugely valuable economic contributor for more than a decade,” said Shelley.

Since restrictions on Australia’s international border began easing at the beginning of November, over 300,000 eligible visa holders have arrived in Australia.

International arrivals will have to follow any quarantine arrangements in place in the state or territory in which they land, however most states have now removed the requirement for travellers to isolate on arrival.