No welcome mat for South Africans yet
Australia’s borders have been closed since March last year, causing distress and frustration for Australians and foreign nationals who wish to travel to or from the Land Down Under.
There was glee and excitement last week when it was announced Australia would open up to international tourism. The move was announced as Australia is expected to soon reach a vaccination benchmark of 80% of the population (aged 16 and over) who have received a second injection of the vaccine.
VACCINATED AUSTRALIANS MAY TRAVEL ABROAD
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison presented plans last week to allow vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents to travel abroad from November for the first time since March last year.
Bloomberg says that when they return to Australia, these people will have to undergo a home quarantine. According to the recent announcement, only fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to participate in the home quarantine program.
The government intends to implement a seven-day home quarantine requirement for the return of vaccinated citizens and residents. This should replace the costly 14-day hotel quarantine program that is currently in place.
WHO CAN TRAVEL TO AUSTRALIA?
Quotas regulating the number of Australians entering from abroad have prevented many Australians from returning to their home countries during the pandemic. Morrison said the main focus is going to be to bring Australian nationals from overseas back to the country.
“The next priorities are the skilled migrants who are very important to the country and who are doubly vaccinated, as well as the students who come and return to Australia for their studies,” Morrison told Seven Network television.
Skilled migrants and students registered for study in Australia would be given a higher priority than foreign visitors. International visitors will not be allowed to enter Australia until next year.
“We will also have international visitors, I think next year,” added Morrison.
The Australian Tourism Export Council, which represents the country’s tourism sector, wants international visitors to return by next March. Australia was making A $ 45 billion (Rand 493 billion) a year from international tourism (before the pandemic).
FLIGHTS TO APPROVED DESTINATIONS
According to ABC.net, Qantas plans to operate flights to destinations the Australian government has approved for Australians.
Three weekly return flights between Sydney and London and Los Angeles are planned. These flights are already full and tickets are chargeable, given the pent-up demand for overseas travel by Australians.
“We had already sold out some of our international flights for December and saw high demand on flights to and from London and Los Angeles, so we are confident that there will be a lot of interest in these earlier services.” Qantas CEO Alan said. Joyce said in a statement.
NO CHANGE FOR SOUTH AFRICANS
The excitement and enthusiasm of potential reunions with family and friends from Australia in December were short-lived as Australia is unlikely to rank South Africa as a safe destination for travel this year.
South Africa is currently not one of the approved return destinations for Qantas flights in December. The airline’s flights to Johannesburg are expected to resume in April next year.