Searches for flights on Qantas’ website have tripled, indicating that Australians are eager to return to international travel.
Searches for international flights nearly tripled in the week following Qantas’ announcement of plans to reintroduce international travel, indicating that Australians are eager to travel abroad.
Qantas announced last month a plan to restart international travel by December, nearly two years after COVID-19 forced a halt to flights, and the carrier saw a 175% increase in online flight searches the following week.
December was the most-searched-for month for travel, indicating that Australians were eager to travel abroad as soon as possible. Qantas domestic and international CEO Andrew David stated that Australia was on track to meet the 80% trigger by the end of the year.
In addition, the national carrier has backed the federal government’s plans to create a vaccine passport for international travel in the coming weeks.
London was the most popular destination for first-time visitors, with flights to the UK capital from Sydney and Melbourne being the most sought-after routes. They were followed by Sydney to Los Angeles, Sydney to Singapore, and Sydney to Tokyo searches.
The resumption of international travel was expected to be staggered as the federal government reached travel agreements with various countries.
Once Australia’s vaccination rate reached 80% and outbreaks in both countries were under control, a suspended travel bubble with New Zealand was expected to open.
Qantas’ initial focus has been on destinations with high vaccination rates, such as the United Kingdom, North America, Singapore, and Japan. However, due to concerns about low vaccination and infection rates, the airline has delayed travel to a number of other popular destinations, including Bali, Jakarta, Bangkok, and Phuket, until at least April.
In 2019, more than 1.4 million Australian tourists visited Indonesia, and 540,000 visited Thailand. Both countries, however, have struggled to energise their vaccine rollouts, with vaccination rates of 15% and 16%, respectively, in both countries.
For Fiji, another popular destination for Australian tourists, the federal government has pledged a million doses of vaccine to the island nation.
Berejiklian announced this week that international travel to and from the state of New South Wales would be allowed as of July 1.
Travellers to the UK were only required to undergo a PCR test before entering the country because Australia was a green-zone country in the United Kingdom. A quarantine would be required upon arrival for those transiting through Doha, which the UK has classified as amber.
Over the past month, support for the national reopening plan has weakened, with Queensland and Western Australia indicating they may try to maintain restrictions beyond 80 per cent vaccination.
Despite the importance of their cooperation, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan is optimistic about international travel before the end of the year.
By Joe Cusmano