When Can I Go?
When Australia open to tourists? This is the A $ 1,000,000 question — and unfortunately there are no definite answers at this point.
The cost of Australia’s much-appreciated response to Covid has been nearly two years of border closures. As Europe and North America reopen and reconnect, even Australian citizens find it difficult (if not impossible) to return home.
Since citizens, residents, students and professionals have not yet been allowed to re-enter Australia, tourists are unlikely to be allowed anytime soon. Join me as I dig deeper into this problem and later in the article make a prediction.
When can I travel to Australia?
When will Australia open to tourists? No one knows the answer to this for sure, but it’s unlikely to happen until at least halfway through 2022. The reasons are complex (and I’ll get to that in a second), but the conclusion is simple: if you are planning to visit Australia purely for leisure, it would be foolish to expect you to arrive in Australia anytime before around April 2022; August is a much safer bet.
In the next few paragraphs, I’ll explain the reasons for Australia’s travel restrictions, which as of August 2021 essentially result in closed borders, even for Australian citizens. Since students and medium- and long-term business travelers will be the first in the queue once the #StrandedAussies have all been repatriated, tourists will realistically be unable to enter the country until at least 6 to 12 months.
5 reasons why the Australian border is still closed
The #CovidZero fantasy
In an absolute sense, Australia deserves props for limiting its Covid-19 deaths to a fraction of those seen in most other Western countries. However, the idea of ”wiping out” a virus as contagious as SARS-CoV-2 for months or years is a fantasy – a dangerous and costly fantasy. Since the closed borders were essential for Australians to believe this lie, they will be among the last of the totem poles erected to him to fall.
Deployment of anemic vaccine
If Australia is open to tourism as you read this, you can bet at least 80% of the country has been vaccinated. It’s the ‘magic number’ the government included in a July 2021 report, written with medical experts who set targets for easing various restrictions in the Covid era. Sadly, as of August 2021, just over 20% of Australians had been vaccinated, due to self-induced supply issues.
Racism and xenophobia
Many people rightly point out that the border closure has turned Australia, which was initially an outpost for British prisoners, into a new penal colony. There is less talk of the more recent legacy of racism in Australia (i.e., the policy of “white Australia” in force until 1973) and the various xenophobic manifestations in the country over the years. Sadly, basic Australian instincts seem to lead to isolation.
Compliant and passive population
Another reason Australia is not open to tourism is that many Australians are fine with closed borders. Those who are not downright racist are xenophobes and simply do not want to rock the boat. Many Australians would rather put another shrimp on the barbie and open a Foster’s rather than making the noise necessary to visit family abroad, vacation in Bali, or enjoy the god-given freedom of movement.
Frighteningly, Australian voters rewarded “Australian Fortress” leaders like Dan Andrews of Victoria, Annastacia Palaszczuk of Queensland and Mark McGowan of Western Australia. Even “pro-business” Prime Minister Scott Morrison tacitly endorsed the border closure, saying in March 2021 that the vaccine rollout was “not a race”. Only the Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, has shown leadership or courage.
When will Australia open its borders for international travel?
I will answer this question in two parts. The first part is that as the Australian vaccination campaign gathers pace – it’s definitely a ‘race’ now! This is described in a vague but evolving document that the Morrison government first released in July 2021.
However, it will only be after the federal elections in early 2022 that any government can consider admitting non-essential travelers (tourists, but also students and workers) into the country. I imagine this will be the case even if Australia reaches stages three or four, which involves immunizing 80-90% of its population. When will Australia open to tourists? Not in 2021, that’s for sure.
Other FAQs on visiting Australia after the pandemic
Why is the Australian border still closed?
The Australian border is still closed, as of August 2021, for a combination of reasons. Most importantly, Australia’s #CovidZero strategy relies on the authorization of almost zero people in the country. The slow rollout of the vaccine in the country compounds the need to close the borders, as allowing any SARS-CoV-2 in the country would quickly lead to an out-of-control epidemic. Second, Australians have a long history of xenophobia and even racism; Cynical politicians like Scott Morrison have attempted to leverage this for political gain, despite the high cost of closing borders.
When will international students be able to enter Australia?
Before Sydney Outbreak that began in June 2021, I was optimistic that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian would keep her promise to start allowing international students to return, starting in the Australian spring. Unfortunately, because the whole country is once again paralyzed with fear and united behind a vaccine target that will be elusive in 2021, I think it is unlikely that most students will be able to enter Australia before 2021.
When will tourists be able to visit Australia again?
Since even essential travelers like students and workers – and even Australian citizens! make peace with the fact that Covid-19 will eventually spread within their communities, tourism in Australia could resume anywhere between April 2022 and January 2023.
The bottom line
When will Australia open to tourists? At this point, it seems unlikely that will happen until mid-2022, and even that seems optimistic. When Australia reopens it will be gradual and slow, and will likely require jumping through hoops that many tourists won’t want to do at all. If you’re planning to visit Australia purely for leisure and don’t want to follow your trip down with a trip to the trash, you can even plan for January 2023 or later, just to be on the safe side. .