Australia gets ready to reopen to overseas visitors

Students, skilled workers and some business travellers could be among the first wave of overseas visitors to Australia.

By David Flynn, October 28 2021
Australia gets ready to reopen to overseas visitors

Although Australia's long-standing ban on international travel will be lifted as of November 1, inbound travel will initially be limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families.

With some 40,000 Australians overseas registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wanting to return, getting them home for Christmas is clearly a high priority.

But the country is already laying out a timetable for foreign nationals to wing their way into Sydney, Melbourne and other capital cities as they move towards quarantine-free arrival for fully vaccinated flyers.

Federal Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan says that vaccinated international students, working-holiday visa holders and agricultural workers could be welcomed back before Christmas.

"Ultimately we want to make international travel happen as seamlessly as possible globally, because that's the best way we can ensure the global economy continues to thrive," he said in a Bloomberg Television interview Tuesday.

Singapore first?

The first visitors could come from Singapore, with the country opening a 'Vaccinated Travel Lane' with Australia as of November 8.

While at first restricted to Australians jetting to and from Singapore, students and business pass holders from Singapore may be booking flights to Australia by the end of November.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore says it expects "student and business pass holders from Singapore to be able to enter Australia, after Australia has finalised the arrangement for their entry. Other travellers from Singapore would not be able to travel to Australia until a later stage."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously maintained that skilled migrants and students would receive priority over tourists in visiting Australia, but last week indicated that tourists might be dusting off their passports for late December.

"That is very possible, and very achievable before the end of the year," Morrison said at a press conference held inside a hangar at Qantas’ Sydney Airport jet base last Friday.

He added that following the establishment of the Australia-Singapore travel bubble "we would open up to more visa class holders coming out of Singapore."

The Bali bubble

Thailand has already said it will welcome fully-vaccinated visitors from Australia as of November 1, although discussions between Australia and Indonesia about reopening popular getaway destination Bali could hang on this being a two-way tourism arrangement.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce believes a 'Bali bubble' may be in place in time for Christmas holidays, saying on Friday that "the Indonesian government is looking for Bali, which is highly vaccinated, to do something similar to New South Wales" in terms of removing quarantine for the double-jabbed.

Earlier this week, Trade and Tourism Minister Tehan said the Bali bubble could open 'very soon'.

"The Covid situation on the ground in Bali is continuing to improve... it'' obviously an incredibly popular destination for Australians in particular, and tourism is such a huge part of the Balinese economy so we will continue to have discussions."

Tehan added that discussions were also continuing with Japan and South Korea about allowing vaccinated Australians to enter without quarantine.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg


09 May 2020

Total posts 562

It will be interesting how many of the 40k Australians on the wait lists are vaccinated with the TGA recognised vaccines. And how many are voluntarily not vaccinated and medically not suitable for vaccination…. Both of these would need to go into capped Australians. 

Are there going to be flights for vaccinated travellers only (which is safer for everyone involved) vs flights for everyone of any status?

These are minefield Qantas will need to sort out. 

And then the issue of recognising the vaccination certificate (and the concern for a real black market well established for fake “verifiable” certification with the own fake QR code). Not sure if there is any announcement by the government how they are going to accept these overseas vaccination evidence. I hope they are going to learn from overseas experience (eg UK and SG) rather than from scratch. 

After all UK and EU would have at least 3 months experience, with UK having extra learning points on how they should consider certain vaccination certification from some regions (screaming of racism which is true to some extent). And SG which would not tolerate any nonsense from dodgy certification, they are very willing to turn people back when anything is not verifiable, not their problem if you have any technical difficulties, and that’s before COVID-19. 

The most important thing is that border force needs to be trained and briefed properly. Even during normal times their knowledge of what is allowed are patchy, and my last international experience with them during COVID-19 can be summarised as “lost”. 

They don’t know what they are doing and there is not enough of them even when they know very well the processing will take longer to do. They don’t seemed to think the big mass of people waiting in line in front of them and barely able to keep safe distancing is actually posing a health risk to everyone including themselves 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 78

Friendly reminder: many of us aren't "visitors." I'm on a skilled migrant visa. Many like me have lived in Australia and called it home for years and spent the last two years (especially here in Melbourne) living through lockdowns, restrictions and all the rest, paying tax and contributing to the economy while being eligible for few to no benefits, gotten jabbed, and all around done our part --- yet we're still excluded from the initial border reopening because we are "temporary residents."

I'm all for letting Australians stranded overseas home first. But my neighbours now planning Christmas holidays in Fiji and Hawaii (and hey - good on them!) doesn't help bring stranded Aussies home, and it's absurd that this has been prioritised ahead of people like me being allowed to leave and return to see ageing parents.

We either believe in vaccination or we don't, and this staged nonsense that doesn't actually help those we've abandoned overseas while continuing to punish people with the wrong passport or visa type is just so sadly par for the course yet needlessly cruel.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 527

While I agree with you, in many countries all foreigners who are not permanent residents are viewed as tourists, so don't be surprised if Australia doesn't see you as much of a priority as a citizen.

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