Tourism Australia told T+L that welcoming international visitors "will likely be further down the track.”

By Cailey Rizzo
June 18, 2020
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Australia is unlikely to reopen its international borders until 2021.

In a press conference Wednesday, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said that keeping borders closed to international travelers until next year "is more likely the case,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

Birmingham did not confirm 2021 for a reopening date, but rather reiterated that “in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off,” and acknowledge that an opening date next year "is more likely the case."

Since Australia closed its borders on March 20, international travel has been at a standstill. At the moment, only Australian citizens, residents, and immediate family can visit the country and they must self-impose a 14-day quarantine at a designated facility like a hotel after landing, according to Tourism Australia.

“From Tourism Australia’s perspective attracting international travelers will form a critical part of the tourism restart and recovery in Australia, but will likely be further down the track,” Tourism Australia’s Managing Director, Phillipa Harrison, said in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure. “We just don’t know when international restrictions will start to be lifted, nor how the process of restoring international travel will play out. But we will be ready to go back when the time is right.”

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Australia currently has nearly 7,409 cases of coronavirus and 102 people have died, per Johns Hopkins University data. An overseas travel ban remains in effect for Australians, meaning they cannot leave the country, but the government is coordinating “travel bubbles” which could allow Australians to visit other low-risk destinations like New Zealand.

Australia had banned inter-state travel while battling the peak of its coronavirus outbreak. The states are starting to reopen, with some of its most populous states like Victoria and New South Wales allowing domestic travel. More remote areas like Northern Territory and Tasmania remain closed to non-essential travel, Tourism Australia also said.

Australia intends to enter phase three, the final stage of its recovery plan, in July, The Guardian reported. From that time, up to 10,000 people will be allowed at outdoor festivals and concerts, and bars and clubs could allow more than 100 people if they are able to sustain social distancing rules. Foreign students could also return to Australian universities at that time.