Australia finds itself in difficult times. There is increasing demand domestically to relax the coronavirus measures, and there are also more and more requests from abroad to open the borders and allow the visa system to start operating again. For the time being, the Australian authorities are sticking to their guns.
Coronavirus in Australia
The core of the problem lies, not surprisingly, in the fact that the coronavirus has also taken hold in Australia. Although the number of cases of coronavirus infection is slowly but surely falling in the majority of the country, the south of the country is still struggling with the virus. The states of South Australia and Victoria, in particular, have recently seen a growing number of infections.
Rivalry between states
Australia is a large country made up of different states. Recently, however, due to the various lockdown measures and border closures, it seems that the states are becoming mini-countries in themselves. Where other countries in the world have closed their borders to foreign traffic, several Australian states have also closed their borders to each other. As a result, domestic traffic between states in Australia is becoming increasingly difficult. This is mainly due to the fact that each state has its own rules against the coronavirus.
Leading example or prison island?
This lack of overview therefore leads to a great deal of frustration among the people of Australia. They have to deal with often contradictory reports. What is permitted in one state can lead to a hefty fine in another. At the same time, Australia has generally taken strict measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. For example, Australians are virtually no longer allowed to leave the country. There are cases where exceptions apply, but these exceptions are rarely granted. Supporters of this policy say that, with the exception of the state of Victoria, the number of cases of coronavirus infection in Australia is steadily dropping.
Opponents, however, say that the measures are too strict and that the country is starting to look more and more like a prison. Visiting relatives or friends abroad is no longer permitted, in some cases even if they are dying. Out of more than 100,000 requests for exemptions to the travel ban, only one in four are approved. The government of Australia has said that these measures are likely to continue for several more months.
Travel industry says: open the borders!
Meanwhile, the tourism industry and airlines are sounding the alarm bells. Spokespersons for both industries say that the current situation is no longer tenable. Tourism revenues have halved in recent months, according to the Australian Tourism Industry Council. Although the Australian government is trying to keep the industries afloat with support packages, the companies say this is only a temporary solution. They are therefore advising the government to open the borders. This applies both to the internal borders between states and to Australia's national borders. The only way these companies will survive is if tourism gets back on track.
However, the outlook is not positive. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that it is “unlikely” that Australia will open its borders this year. The hope that a “travel corridor” can be established between Australia and New Zealand (and possibly other countries) is now also uncertain because of the new infections in Victoria.
Australia high on post-Covid travel destination list
Nevertheless, there is also good news for Australia. In a recent global survey of the most popular travel destinations when borders open again, Australia was one of the clear favourites among tourists. Australia is particularly popular in Asian countries such as Japan and Indonesia. But travellers from the United Kingdom also list Australia as one of the first countries they want to visit when the pandemic is finally over. In comparison with Australia, countries such as the USA and China have become a lot less popular compared to previous years.
As a tourist destination, Australia is very accessible for travellers. The country has an electronic visa system, which makes it easy to apply for the so-called eVisitor visa for Australia This type of visa can be applied for entirely online, so it is not necessary to go to the embassy. Applying for a visa for Australia costs £14.95 per visa. The visa is valid for 1 year and during this period you can make an unlimited number of trips to Australia.