After nearly two years, Australia is finally opening its borders for international travellers. The continent nation earned its nickname 'Fortress Australia' due to its fortress-like travel bans capping both international arrivals as well as citizens leaving the country.
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country had closed its borders in March 2020 to almost everyone but Australian nationals and residents. Strict regulations were imposed to help slow down the surge of COVID-19 cases. As the third wave of the pandemic recedes, Australia announced its decision to open its borders to vaccinated foreigners.
Earlier, only students, skilled workers and permanent citizens were allowed to enter Australia. The much-awaited move was welcomed with joyful family reunions and celebrations. Fully vaccinated foreigners no longer need to quarantine, however two-week quarantine is still required by unvaccinated travellers.
Australia's international airports in Melbourne and Sydney saw jubilant scenes as separated friends and families reunited after years. The decision was welcomed by tourism operators in Australia that faced significant losses due to both international and domestic travel bans. Before the pandemic, the country saw over 9 million visitors in 2018-2019. The Australian government has also launched AUD 40 million advertising campaign to boost tourism.
24 hours after the borders re-opened, over 50 international flights have been scheduled to land in Australia. As per the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the restrictions cost an estimated AUD 3.6 billion every month. According to Prime Minister Morrison, he is certain that the number of tourists will scale up soon.
However, fears of snap border closures and state travel restrictions are still a key issue. Western Australia pursued a strict lockdown and cut itself off from all the other states. Except for Western Australia, foreign visitors can enter all the Australian states. The state will open its borders from 3 March and requires three jabs.