For the first time in over two years, Australia’s international border has reopened, bringing with it happy family reunions and a boost to tourism.
After closing down in March 2020 owing to Covid, the country enacted among of the world’s harshest travel prohibitions.
Most foreigners have had to wait since late last year, when Australians and others were permitted to return.
On Monday, when hundreds of passengers arrived on aircraft, there were sad reunions at Sydney Airport.
Charlotte, a small child, gave her granddad an intense embrace. “I’ve missed him so much and I’ve looked forward to this trip for so long.” she told the local Nine Network.
Visitors who have been double-jabbed are exempt from quarantine, but unvaccinated travellers must stay in a hotel for up to 14 days at their own expense.
On Monday, more than 50 international planes were scheduled to arrive. All states are open to visitors, with the exception of Western Australia, which is closed until March 3 and requires three vaccinations.
“What wonderful, wonderful news for our tourism industry and the 660,000 people employed in it,” said Dan Tehan, Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Investment.
In 2019, Australia received around 9.5 million international tourists. Mr Tehan expressed optimism for a significant recovery in the tourist industry, which has also been harmed by internal travel limitations.
The country’s tight policies were criticized for dividing families and suffocating companies, but they were also credited with saving many lives before vaccinations were accessible. There have been around 4,900 Covid fatalities in Australia.
Dawn the koala, like the sunrise, is a sign of better days ahead for Australia’s struggling tourism economy.
At Sydney’s Featherdale Wildlife Park, she is one of the main attractions. Before Australia’s borders were slammed shut, international tourists were its lifeblood, accounting for two-thirds of its earnings.
The park has survived thanks to domestic tourists, but the reopening of Australia’s borders represents a watershed moment.
Chad Staples, the park’s managing director, stated, “The fact that we can really start welcoming people back is going to do a lot for our morale,”
While there is excitement for the future, there is also apprehension about expecting too much, too fast in the tourist town of Leura in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains.
“It is not going to be a magic recovery,” Josophan’s Fine Chocolates’ Careem Angel stated. It will take years to rebuild Australia’s multibillion-dollar travel sector.