Simon Birmingham, Australia's Minister for Trade,
Tourism and Investment, has said that it is unlikely that
Australia will reopen its borders to international travellers this
Speaking at an event at the National Press Club of
Australia in Canberra on Wednesday, Mr. Birmingham said, "International
students and other categories of visitors to Australia who stay
here for a longer period of time, can more easily be accommodated
because we can simply work through the 14-day quarantine periods
that have worked so well in terms of returning Australians to this
country safely today."
He went on to say, "In terms of other countries and how we look at
shorter term visitation, that becomes much more challenging once
you move beyond New Zealand, but not impossible and I hope that we
can look eventually at some of those countries who have similar
successes in suppressing the spread of COVID to Australia and New
Zealand, and in working through that with those countries to find
safe pathways to deal with essential business travel that helps to
contribute to jobs across our economies. But I do sadly think that
in terms of open tourist related travel in or out of Australia
that remains quite some distance off, just because of the
practicalities of the volumes that are involved and the need first
and foremost for us to put health first."
When the moderator states "that sounds more like next
year, not this year", Mr. Birmingham replies, "I think that is more
likely the case."
Currently all Qantas scheduled international
flights, except for flights between Australia and New Zealand,
have been suspended until at least the end of October 2020. The
airline had been hoping to
resume international flights at the end of July.
According to Tourism Australia, there were 2,300
visitor arrivals in April 2020, a drop of 99.7% when compared to
the same month last year when 700,400 people visited the country. In 2019,
a total of 9,465,700
visitor arrivals, a 2.4% increase on 2018.