Australia eyes return of foreign tourists after two-year lockout

‘We don’t have all the information we need to be able to take the decision, but we are very close.
Image: Bloomberg

Australia plans to open its borders to international tourists as soon as possible, a government minister said Sunday, following a report that they will be allowed back by the end of February after a Covid-related hiatus of almost two years.

“We are getting ready to open as soon as we can,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said in an ABC TV interview. “We don’t have all the information we need to be able to take the decision, but we are very close.”

Overseas tourists could be back within two or three weeks, the Herald Sun paper reported earlier on Sunday, citing an unnamed senior government source. An announcement from the government may come as soon as Monday following a meeting of the National Security Committee, the paper said.

Lifting restrictions on international visitors would boost the country’s hospitality sector, which has been ravaged by Covid-related lockdowns and border controls. Prior to the pandemic, the tourism industry generated over A$120 billion ($84.9 billion) in annual revenue and employed about 5% of the workforce, according to Tourism Australia.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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