The travel industry is taking flight, with agents experiencing their busiest period since before Covid and bookings booming, after the government lifted the ban on overseas trips.
The travel industry is taking flight, with agents experiencing their busiest period since before Covid after the government lifted the ban on overseas trips.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews announced on Wednesday fully vaccinated Australians would no longer need to apply for an exemption to leave the country.
From November 1, travel exemptions will be scrapped for the vaccinated as international flights resume after 18 months of border closures, coinciding with the removal of quarantine requirements for the vaccinated.
Ms Andrews said the unvaccinated and those who are not Australian citizens would still require a travel exemption and would be subject to travel caps and quarantine.
“I look forward to further easing restrictions over coming weeks and months as more and more Australians become fully vaccinated,” she said.
As part of the second phase of reopening, international workers and students will be welcomed back.
It comes as Qantas resumes flights to Sydney to London and Los Angeles from November 1, and Thailand confirms quarantine-free travel for the vaccinated.
Bankstown travel agent Janene Pendleton said she had experienced her busiest period in more than two years following the announcements.
“People are excited and looking forward to making plans to travel again. It’s not just tourism but we have many clients who are able to travel to reunite with family,” she said.
“We were expecting a strong rebound but this is amazing, we are getting calls from clients who have never used an agent before.”
Travel agent Steve Cairns said many people were willing to splash more money on their bookings.
“There is very little hesitancy and they all have extra savings to upgrade or extend but the “do not travel” warning on Smart Traveller is creating confusion,” he said.
In the past week alone, searches for travel to Singapore spiked 47 per cent on SkyScanner after the island confirmed Australians could visit quarantine-free.
Overall travel demand has been rising since the news that international travel would return in November, with search volumes jumping 128 per cent in the last month.
It comes after Qantas last week announced the early return of flights from Sydney to Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Johannesburg, Fiji and Delhi.
The news is a shot in the arm for the sector, which lost about 15,000 jobs during the pandemic, according to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).
AFTA chief executive officer Dean Long said despite the positive developments, government support was still needed because many agents were not paid until after the travel takes place.
“Australia’s travel agents and businesses have been in hard lockdown for
more than 600 days and until airlines and cruise capacity return to normal levels,
which won’t be before the second quarter of 2022, we need support,” he said.
Originally published as Overseas travel: Travel exemption requirement scrapped
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