Sydney Opera House

Like neighbor New Zealand, Australia was out early with the bad news. The message: don’t expect any international travel until there’s a vaccine, or significant improvement in the global covid-19 landscape.

Australia stunned the world in August, with the bold announcement that international travel was unlikely to return until Spring of 2021, but now it appears the much loved Pacific country is signaling an even longer delay to travel and tourism reboots.

sydney australia the butler

Australia Largely Closed Off Until Late Next Year

In August, Qantas removed all international flights from its schedule through March 2021, dashing hopes of PM Scott Morrison’s aim to reboot at least some international travel by December holidays. Australia’s primary concern was reopening limited travel domestically, and with trading partner New Zealand.

Now, those glimmers of hope for an early 2021 international trip are being quashed, with fresh statements from Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, stating plainly that Australia will “largely remain closed off until next year”, according to reports from the National Press Club.

You’ll have to get your flat whites somewhere else, for now.

Availability of a covid-19 vaccine appears to be a key hurdle, which without, Australia will refuse to widely open borders to international arrivals. No vaccines have received regulatory approval to date, and vaccines candidates are only expected to deliver 30-60% effectiveness, much like other vaccines, according to the Lancet.

a pool with umbrellas and a beach in the background with Bondi Beach in the background
Bondi Icebergs in Sydney, the world’s most famous pool on the ocean.

“International travel, including by tourists and international students, is assumed to remain largely closed off until late next year and then gradually return over time, and a vaccine to be available around the end of 2021 is one of the assumptions in the budget,”

Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer, Australia

Australia long awaited and recently opened trans-Tasman travel bubble with New Zealand may be a lifeline for now, but may also become another key issue down the line.

New Zealand is in a steadfast pursuit of entire eradication of covid-19, which makes Australia’s chances of maintaining that bubble, while enticing new international travel partners a virtual non starter. New Zealand would likely sever bubble ties if Australia were to welcome visitors from countries with higher infection rates.

Australians are currently welcome in many countries, including those within the European Union, and Singapore, but citizens unwilling to quarantine for 14 days at an expense of $3000AUD in a government facility are unable to travel at all. Even then, a government exemption is still required. Limited flights due to the international travel shutdown only further complicate the matter.

a large rock cliff on a beach
12 Apostles, a great day trip from Melbourne

Sad Times For Australia Travel

The news is unfortunate, particularly as other countries begin to signal potential dates for wider reopening to tourists and international travelers. Japan recently announced hopes to welcome international tourist visitors by April 2021, ahead of wide arrivals expected for the postponed 2020 Olympic Games. The 2020 Olympic Games are now scheduled to take place in July and August, 2021.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Americas, Middle East, Africa and Asia, countries are taking more scientific risk based approaches to reopening travel, demanding recent negative covid-19 tests before flight, and many countries are also insisting upon a second test after arrival.

Recent studies suggest double testing, with a second test taken 7 days after arrival is capable of catching 100% of covid-19 cases, or a figure very close to that number.

It may be a while before you can have that next flat white in Melbourne, beer on Bondi, delicious farm to table dining in Adelaide or catch a wave in Queensland. It’s too bad, because Australia is only like the best destination in the world.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. The infection numbers for Australia are only 20 or so per day.
    What do they have to see in order to open back up? How can there even be a possible exit strategy?
    A viable vaccine for a corona virus: never been done before! It will take YEARS.
    Only Sweden has freedom.

  2. We have booked a holiday to Australia next year. We are going for a month. All reports say Australia will be closed. So why are companys still taking money for flights accommodation car hire if there’s international shut down on there boarders

  3. Why are the politicians targeting zero cases and a zero tourism industry ?

    Utter Madness and in years to come, they will be mocked badly for this myopic stance

  4. I miss my family and my partner so very very much. It’s so unaffordable to fly out to Australia. My partner was supposed to fly out to California sometime during this year but now we are stuck in limbo. I love the USA but I love my partner more. Please Mr. MORRISON make it cheeper for me as a citizen to come home

  5. We are locked out and can’t get home to Australia.How can the government
    Ignore the situation.

  6. Australia! WTF!? Outrageous. Government is not given the power to isolate the country. How is it any different than East Germany? The citizens were told the isolation was for their own good, that the outside world posed a threat to their existence. Covid propper gander is internationally coordinated and so the threat is whatever they/you want to make it. What is the difference? You know the economy will tank and when it comes to food OR material goods such as fashionable clothing, imported cars, toys, machinery, etc., The food wins. Without imports or a salary it’s going to be pineapple and spam soup & bread, and a very drab, melancholy, militant, wasteland. A continent/country/island without international travel is a prison. Sounds like Australia has come full circle . You had better kick up a holy shit stink and take your dignity out of the hands of scoundrels soon or you will forget why you should, what you deserve, what’s real and who you are.

  7. the world has never got rid of flu. it is always ongoing. so take good measures and open border. so take right decision until the it adversely effects the country’s economy.

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