International travel to and from Australia may be off the cards until 2021, according to the country's tourism minister.
Australia has been successful in managing the coronavirus crisis but it's not about to take any chances by rushing to reopen its borders. Like New Zealand, the country has attributed its low infection rate to strict social-distancing rules and tight border controls. Non-essential travel has been banned since March and despite the proposal of a "trans-Tasman travel bubble" between Australia and New Zealand, tourism minister Simon Birmingham has said the country is likely to be off-limits to international travellers for the rest of the year.
"I do sadly think that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off," The Australian reports Mr Birmingham saying in an address to the National Press Club.
An exception could be made for international students and long-term visitors with Birmingham proposing that the existing quarantine rule could be applied to them. "We can simply work through the 14-day quarantine periods that have worked so well in terms of returning Australians to this country safely," he said.
In May, experts behind the "trans-Tasman travel bubble" suggested it could be launched as early as September, as Australia and New Zealand look to kickstart tourism ahead of the southern hemisphere's summer season. The agreement would allow passengers to travel between the neighbouring nations without the current mandatory 14-day quarantine period on either side, once it's safe to do so. But Birmingham's recent comments, while not definitive, suggest the travel bubble may still be a long way off.
To encourage Australians to take advantage of the abundance of travel opportunities in their own backyard, the government launched the Love Australia Project last month with tips and tricks on the best things to see and do around the country.
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