Tourism Minister reveals countries ‘very keen’ for Australian travel bubble

Aussies wishing to travel overseas may still have a while to wait, but Federal Ministers have remained hopeful for a number of travel bubbles opening up as soon as 2022 once the government’s 80 per cent vaccination target is reached.

“The next three to four months will be trying for all of us but there is still a strong ray of sunshine,” Mr Tehan told the tourism sector on Friday.

“Once we hit that 80 per cent rate by Christmas we will be able to turn the corner.”

Mr Tehan has acknowledged the heavy hit local tourism had taken in the past 18 months, with many business forced to rely on assistance packages to keep afloat.

“At the moment tourism is as tough as it has been,’’ Mr Tehan said.

“The business relief package is providing support, but it is not flowing through to those areas outside of lockdown, they are feeling the ripple effect, we have to provide support.”

Mr Tehan said the reopening of the New Zealand bubble was on the cards and confirmed officials in the Pacific Islands and Singapore are “very keen” to open doors to Australia once case number and vaccination targets are met.

“Obviously the New Zealand one we had put in place was working successfully,” he continued.

“The Pacific Islands and Singapore are very keen for us to do a bubble and I have committed to work being done. The United States is very keen to engage with us, we will be able to get those bubbles in place. But ultimately it will depend on how countries are dealing with the covid virus.”

Despite our spiralling Delta outbreak, the UK currently has Australia on a “green list”. Those given an exemption to travel must test negative for covid three days before arrival. Travellers will also need to also book and pay for a two-day covid test once inside and also report to authorities with a passenger locator form.

The UK this week changed its covid entry rules for travellers coming from the US or Europe, scrapping hotel quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals.

While the unpredictable nature of the pandemic means none of this is set in stone, the early conversations with foreign authorities point to good news for those in lockdown with an itchy travel bug.

Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison revealed forward bookings from Australia’s top 15 travel destinations were at 30 per cent compared to pre-covid demand.

“We know people want to travel,” she said via the Australian.

“(But) we know we have a tough couple of months to go, we have clarity that this is not going away … the two largest domestic markets are in lockdown.”

The Tourism Minister said there was still a high demand for Chinese tourism Down Under.

“We would welcome Chinese tourists back to Australia once we have this pandemic fixed. We have a diverse supply of tourists coming to Australia, we want to see Chinese tourism return to the levels we were seeing before the pandemic,” he said.

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Author: Shirley