CANBERRA, AAP – Tourism Minister Dan Tehan says he’s hopeful of international visitor numbers getting back to a pre-pandemic level by the end of the year.
Australia will be open to all fully vaccinated tourists, business travellers and other visitors from February 21.
Visa holders who are not fully vaccinated will still require a valid travel exemption to enter Australia, and will be subject to state and territory quarantine requirements.
The federal government is also working with the states and territories on the safe resumption of the cruise industry.
Mr Tehan said he was confident the reopening would occur in a seamless way.
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“This is all new to us in terms of having the full border reopen, but we are very confident – having planned this for a couple of weeks – we have the resources in place to make this go smoothly,” he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.
He said there was strong demand which would be fuelled by Tourism Australia’s marketing campaign to encourage people to “start thinking big again”.
But it’s unknown how quickly the industry will get back to normal.
“How long that takes will be very much determined by peoples’ mindset as to when they really feel confident they can travel and travel safely, knowing the borders will remain open and they won’t be impacted by decisions which might mean that visits are cut short,” he said.
“Hopefully by the end of the year we will be looking at numbers getting back to where they were pre-pandemic.”
Mr Tehan said he hoped to reach a deal with some of the states and territories on cruise ships within the next month.
The tourism industry has been positive about the pilot reopening to Japan, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand ahead of the full reopening.