With vaccination rates rapidly rising around the country and domestic reopening plans starting to take effect, focus must shift towards clarifying plans for the resumption of international travel.
“Although the Prime Minister’s announcement last week that vaccinated Australians will be able to travel overseas from November is a positive first step, the operation of international travel and quarantine remains unclear,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.
“Severe labour and skills shortages, as well as the loss of export income from international education, trade and tourism, risks jeopardising the recovery of businesses that have already been smashed by lockdowns and restrictions.
“This impending crisis must be urgently addressed with a holistic plan for the resumption of international travel. Governments must facilitate the return of vaccinated Australians, and additionally, commit to a process for increasing the number of skilled migrants, international students and tourists, working holidaymakers and business travellers.
“Australia is a great place to work, to study and to travel. It is vital that we’re open for business.
ACCI is seeking urgent action from the Commonwealth, state and territory governments on five priority issues:
- Increasing quarantine-free two-way travel for the fully vaccinated with other countries, detailing which countries will be included alongside New Zealand and the conditions of travel.
- State and territory governments committing to the national plan of returning the quarantine caps to their previous level when their own jurisdiction reaches 70 per cent fully vaccinated.
- State and territory governments committing to extending home quarantine to all returning Australians who are fully vaccinated, while retaining hotel quarantine until there is sufficient capacity in purpose-built quarantine, allowing increased arrivals of skilled migrants, international students, and business travellers.
- Continuing targeted support to sectors that are not going to recover until 2022 due to ongoing international travel restrictions, including travel and international tour operators and business events.
- Improving the understanding of any restrictions imposed on the movement of international travellers across borders, including clarity on airline restrictions and the lifting of limits on ships coming to Australia such as those that will operate domestic cruises.
“We need to be taking proactive steps now to prepare for the safe reopening of our borders in an efficient and orderly way,” Mr McKellar added.
“With vaccination targets in sight, we need a clear plan and timetable for the resumption of international travel beyond the statements that Australians will be free to travel overseas.
“When the country is on the cusp of a skills crisis, it is essential that these shortages are addressed to deliver the boost the economy needs. Australia’s future prosperity is contingent on returning to high levels of skilled migration beyond the limited priority occupations list that is currently in place.
“Australian tourism operators are missing out as travel opens up around the world. The sector has already suffered from billions of dollars lost in forgone international tourism,” Australian Chamber-Tourism Chair, John Hart said.
“It is the worst possible outcome for Australian tourism if we have a significant ramp-up of Australians spending their money on international travel overseas when we don’t have a clear plan of our own for the return of international tourists.