Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan told federal parliament on Wednesday travel bubbles beyond New Zealand would be possible when 80 per cent of eligible Australians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In late July, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had laid out the country’s tentative goals for when tourism could begin. However, at the time, there was no mention of what countries would be considered.
“When we get to phase C, where we see 80% are fully vaccinated, outbound international restrictions will be lifted and travel bubbles will be expanded,” Mr. Tehan told federal parliament last Wednesday.
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Australia could have travel bubbles with the UK, US, Singapore and Japan once the nation’s 80 per cent COVID-19 vaccine target is achieved.
This means dollars in tourism businesses and more importantly, it means security for the 660,000 people who are employed in our tourism industry.
Australia’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the closure of the international border coupled with internal border restrictions impacting businesses.
“I think there is no doubt that the national plan will be greeted by the tourism industry, probably more so than any other industry across this nation,” Mr Tehan said.
“Because the impact that this pandemic has had on the domestic tourism industry and on our international tourism industry has been severe.
“And the fact that we now have a national plan which details a way out of this pandemic, which lays out how we can learn to live with this virus, has been extremely welcomed by the tourism industry.”
To date, a whopping 36% are fully vaccinated, and 60% have gotten one dose (as of August 31).
Back in late July, Morrison believed Australia could reach its goals “by the end of the year.” But now it looks as if we may reach it earlier.
The operative phrase, of course, is that “outbound international restrictions” would be lifted when we reach 80%.
By Joe Cusmano