International tourists to return to Australia after 704 days
Today’s commitment to reopen Australia’s borders to fully vaccinated international tourists, business travellers and other visa holders is a watershed moment as we emerge from the pandemic. This welcome step will provide our 300,000 tourism businesses and their 700,000-strong workforce with the confidence to get back to business.
“As of February 21, our borders will have been closed to international tourists for 704 days. Today’s announcement from the Federal Government finally sets our tourism industry on the path to recovery,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.
“A step back to normality, this decision will allow our flailing tourism sector to recover, saving businesses and saving livelihoods. Given we are an export-oriented economy, our future prosperity is contingent on our international borders being open.
“The announcement today is a crucial step towards opening up to the world and getting Australia back to business.
“With every month of delay costing the economy $3.75 billion, the reopening of our borders is long overdue,” John Hart, executive chair of Australian Chamber-Tourism said.
“Businesses that are primarily reliant on international tourist arrivals have been savaged by border closures over the past two years, with most operations recording more than a 60 per cent fall in turnover, while many have mothballed their operations entirely
“The economic benefits of international tourism to Australia are considerable. Prior to the pandemic, tourism was Australia’s fourth largest export industry, contributing $45 billion in export income each year.
“Of course, there will be a lag between the reopening of the international borders and when international visitors come to Australia. To ensure we are an internationally competitive destination, initiatives such as refunding tourist visa fees and removing passenger movement charges will be needed to encourage tourist arrivals.
“The delay in tourism arrivals also necessitates ongoing support to rebuild tourism businesses that were devastated by the border closure. If Australia is to benefit from the contribution our tourism sector makes to local jobs and communities, we need to ensure these businesses can stay afloat in the coming months.
“Allowing business travellers back to Australia is also important. Much of our economic growth and economy relies on foreign investment so getting these travellers back into Australia will allow them to make the investment decisions that will boost jobs, growth and living standards of Australians.
“Since May last year, ACCI and our tourism arm, Australian Chamber – Tourism, have advocated for a staged international reopening plan. Taking the step to reopen our borders is a safe and sensible decision with our vaccination rates over 90 per cent.