In much of the world where vaccination is proving effective, the question isn’t about whether to reopen international travel, but how quickly it can be done.
In the USA, UK, Israel, UAE and other countries which have lead the charge in vaccine drives, key metrics including hospitalizations and deaths falling off the map and many millions of jobs and livelihoods are at stake.
Australia, however, had recently indicated that the country doesn’t plan to broadly reopen international travel until sometime well into 2022. Or, did they?
In the span of a week, three press statements made by three leading figures in the Australian Government painted vastly different pictures of opening plans, and the latest points to positive hopes for international travel bubbles. So which one is it?
Australia’s Conflicting Message On Opening Travel
Let’s start with the statements, right? Over the past week, a variety of Australian politicians have been unable to dodge questions on reopening borders, and offered measured responses. First, there was Dan Tehan, Australia’s Minister of Tourism & Trade.
“The best guess would be in the middle to the second half of next year, but as we’ve seen throughout this pandemic things can change,”Dan Tehan, Australian Minister of Tourism & Trade
Then Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s Federal Treasurer weighed in, adding muster to the statements of Dan Tehan, and effectively quashing any hopes of alternate viewpoints.
“quite a conservative, cautious assumption that international borders will gradually reopen from the middle of next year.”Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer, Australia
But just as hopes for visiting Australia were all but written off, amid growing consensus that slow vaccine rollout in the country would keep borders closed well into next year, in jumped Michael McCormack, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, with a dusting of hope, at least for some countries.
View From The Wing caught wind of comments made by Mr. McCormack via corporate travel news, which stated Australia is eager to open travel bubbles in partnership with countries experiencing high levels of vaccination. Speaking on the topic of ramping up vaccination efforts in the country, McCormack offered…
“(vaccines) are going to enable travel bubbles to be opened up with other countries where vaccination rates are very high”Michael McCormack, Deputy PM and Minister for Transport, Australia
Before hopes get too high, the news naturally doesn’t specify a specific date.
But, for countries which have high levels of vaccination, this is a clear indicator that they could be of interest for travel bubble access to Australia and reciprocal opening could be in the works, rather than just regional partners with low vaccination, but low case counts too.
This is somewhat of a change in travel policy idea in itself, given that all of Australia’s previous talk of travel bubbles centered around areas of low cases, like Singapore and other regional partners, favoring the current situation over the more sustainable hope brought on by vaccination.
With cases and vaccines, one naturally often leads to the other. This could mean highly vaccinated countries, at least for tourists with proof of full vaccination, may be able to squeeze an Australia trip in sooner than hoped.
It’s not guaranteed by any means, but just when hope seemed completely lost, there’s a sprinkling of excitement. Hopefully these Australian ministers can find each others phone numbers, and get in touch to square the various takes on reopening.
What do you think, will Australia open up to vaccinated tourists?