The trans-Tasman travel bubble is the only hope for overseas travel before 2021.
Australians won’t be able to travel overseas for another three months, as the federal government quietly extended our international travel ban from 17 June to 17 September.
The ban on international departures was to initially run from 18 March to 17 June, but on 15 May, was extended without fanfare for a further three months.
However, exemptions will be made for the trans-Tasman bubble – talks of which are currently underway.
While New Zealand and some Pacific Islands are the hot tip for a travel bubble in the near future, last month, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also proposed the creation of a ‘safe corridor’ allowing travel between countries which have successfully contained their coronavirus outbreaks.
According to Greek City News, participants in a video call of countries keen to revive tourism included the Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz, Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Andrej Babis, and our very own PM, Scott Morrison.
Last weekend, Mr Mitsotakis said Greece will be ready to welcome tourists this summer.
“When the summer tourist season comes full circle,” said Mr Mitsotakis, “we will be able to say that we did not just manage the first wave of the pandemic in an exemplary way, but that we also set the bar very high on how we can reopen tourism safely – above all else.”
Australia’s travel ban extension would not prevent the proposed trans-Tasman bubble from going ahead with New Zealand and other nations that have control of their coronavirus cases, a Department of Health spokesman told The Australian.
“The human biosecurity emergency is currently in force until September 17, 2020 – it was extended on May 15, 2020 for a further three months to ensure the Australian government continues to have an appropriate range of powers available to manage the ongoing pandemic response,” said the spokesperson.
“The outgoing travel restriction on Australian citizens and permanent residents is currently in effect for the duration of the emergency period.
“Amending these restrictions – for example, to enable travel to NZ – is a decision for both governments that will be made in due course, when the public health risk is assessed as being sufficiently safe. The Australian and New Zealand governments continue to work together on this matter.”
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham confirmed the ban when he spoke at Canberra’s National Press Club this week.
“I do, sadly, think that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off,” he said.
When asked if this ban would likely extend to 2021, Mr Birmingham said, “I think that is more likely the case.”
The federal government is pushing for Australians to explore their own backyards, redirecting the $65 billion they spent on overseas travel last year towards domestic destinations.
“For those Australians who can afford to do so, we want them to feel an almost patriotic duty to get out and support the jobs and small businesses of their fellow citizens by having whatever Aussie holiday they can,” said Mr Birmingham.
“That could mean instead of the beaches of Bali, it could be the beaches of Byron Bay.
“I hope Australians use this time to travel across our magical continent and become better-informed ambassadors of all that we have to offer.”
State border closures have so far prevented interstate travel, but as of Wednesday, South Australia reopened its borders to people from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania, while Queensland is expected to reopen to interstate visitors from 10 July.
Victoria and New South Wales residents may have to stick to their own states for a while, until coronavirus cases are brought back under control.
Here’s where you can travel if you hit the road this weekend.
Where do you want to travel first? Do you think you’ll go overseas again once international travel bans are lifted?
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