Australia could open to tourists before Easter, says country’s prime minister

‘We’re working away to get the timing right,’ Scott Morrison says of inbound tourism

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 02 February 2022 16:40 GMT
<p>A seagull stands in front of Sydney’s iconic Opera House</p>

A seagull stands in front of Sydney’s iconic Opera House

Australia’s prime minister says he wants to open the nation’s borders to fully vaccinated international travellers “certainly before Easter”.

In a radio interview, Scott Morrison said the restoration of incoming tourism and family visits is “our next hurdle”.

He said: “We’re working away to just get the timing of that right, and I don’t think it’s too far away.

“I’d like to see us get there soon, certainly before Easter, well before Easter.

“We’re just watching how Omicron is is sort of washing over the eastern states at the moment, but with Omicron peaking, that then starts opening up opportunities.”

At present tourist arrivals from the UK and the vast majority of other countries are banned. Even moving around Australia is fraught with problems, with Western Australia keeping borders closed.

The WA premier, Mark McGowan, cancelled the planned reopening on 5 February, saying that to allow in outsiders before boosters had been rolled out across the state would be “reckless and irresponsible”.

Scott Morrison did not refer to Western Australia in the interview, which was with the North Queensland radio station 4CA.

He was speaking on the day that Tourism Australia launched a promotion aimed at luring long-stay working holidaymakers to the country. They are already able to enter the country, even though short-term tourists are not.

Anyone who arrives before 19 April 2022 gets their A$495 (£265) visa fee refunded.

The campaign is aimed at young people from the UK, Ireland and five other countries.

Tourism Australia’s managing director, Phillipa Harrison, said: “This new incentive will potentially enable thousands of working holidaymakers to start working and travelling here sooner than planned, while also providing much-needed support to our tourism and hospitality sector with a boost in visitation and some relief to their current workforce pressures.

“Our tourism industry is keen to welcome them back.”

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