Australia to Reopen to Fully Vaccinated Travelers for the First Time In 2 Years — What to Know
Australia will once again welcome tourists from around the world for the first time in nearly two years, setting an official opening date for later this month.
Starting Feb. 21, Australia will allow all fully vaccinated travelers — including those from the United States — to enter the country for tourism.
Travelers will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of their departure, Tourism Australia shared with Travel + Leisure. Travelers will be able to enter all states in Australia quarantine-free with the exception of Western Australia.
Travelers will also have to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which they can apply for online.
"These changes will ensure we protect the health of Australians, while we continue to secure our economic recovery," according to a statement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office. "Today's announcement will give certainty to our vital tourism industry, and allow them to start planning, hiring, and preparing for our reopening… The Commonwealth continues to work with States and Territories on the safe resumption of the cruise industry and looks forward to furthering announcements on this in due course."
The decision comes just days after Morrison said he intended to fully reopen for international tourism by Easter in April.
Unvaccinated travelers will still be subject to quarantine protocols and will require a valid travel exemption to enter the country.
Currently, only certain groups of people, including Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family are allowed to enter the country, according to the Department of Home Affairs. Australia also welcomes vaccinated travelers from certain countries to arrive quarantine-free, like Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
"The announcement today… is a significant step in rebuilding international visitation from Australia's international tourism markets across the globe," Tourism Australia's Managing Director Phillipa Harrison said in a statement provided to T+L. "Australia has long been a popular outbound destination for American travelers… and we are really excited that we will have the opportunity to welcome back visitors from the U.S., one of our key international markets, as travel resumes. "
Australia has seen nearly 580,000 people arrive at its borders since the government first started easing restrictions in November, according to Morrison's office.
Australia's decision to open its borders comes as neighboring New Zealand has laid out its own phased reopening plan with the goal of first welcoming fully vaccinated travelers in July, but requiring them to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.