Aussie tourism leader pens open letter to PM calling for “urgent clarity” on reopening international border

fountain pen on paper with ink text closeup

The federal government’s rough timeline for the reopening of Australia’s international border has prompted an urgent request from a senior tourism industry figure.

Peter Shelley, managing director of the Australian Tourism Export Council, has penned an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling on the government to provide more clarity around when and how it will reopen the international border.

According to Federal Budget papers released earlier this month, it’s assumed that the reopening won’t happen until mid-2022.

You can read Shelley’s letter to the PM in full below…

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you to seek urgent clarity on your plan for reopening our international borders and reconnecting Australian businesses to the global economy.

As we pass by yet another month of closures and continuing uncertainty, tourism export businesses are dismayed at the federal government’s lack of clarity or concern around setting a framework for reopening.

While the industry fully understands the importance of protecting the health of the Australian community, there is a desperate need for businesses to identify a clear roadmap by which they can plan and strategise for the future inbound tourism marketplace.

There is also significant concern at the slow rate at which the government is applying more sophisticated, multi-layered risk management processes that enables Australia to manage the COVID-19 risk offshore. Managing this risk through extensive pre-departure testing, tracking and tracing technology will minimise the chance of COVID-19 entering Australia and in doing so, avoid the significant costs incurred in managing the exposure to the community which we are experiencing through the current on-shore quarantine processes.

The impacts on pure export tourism businesses are direct and clear: without international visitors they have no clients, no income and increasingly, no future. More broadly for the tourism industry and many others, closed borders mean not only a limited client base, but chronic staff shortages and the increasing risk of disconnection from the global marketplace and future growth opportunities.

While some businesses in our industry are surviving with an increase in domestic travel, this surge is short term and will no doubt change dramatically once our borders reopen and Australians can travel overseas again. We simply can’t afford to be complacent and accept this short-term situation as a long-term comfort. Without international visitors, our industry will slip, taking us back to a period where Australia was seen internationally as an expensive, inaccessible and unsophisticated destination. 

We urge the government to come forth quickly with a framework for reopening – one that outlines the conditions under which our borders will begin to open, and one that recognises that Australia needs to get back in the game of international trade before we lose ground to those countries which have been able to vaccinate their citizens and move forward with rebuilding their economies and international engagement.

We look forward to your urgent response.

Peter Shelley

Managing director

Australian Tourism Export Council


Featured image source: iStock/Natalia Shabasheva

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

    Latest comments
    1. …oh dear…. doesn’t anyone know vax doesn’t protect you from getting infected… worse astra zeneca the major vax for australians doesn’t protect you from variants… do you value profit over safety … even death as callously factored by virgin airline bosses… have we become heartless for the sake of money and business…. ok people lose jobs but according to studies unemployment is still relatively low despite the end of the jobkeeper support program… the government has got health experts on it’s side and peter shelley has got profit hungry business peeps on his …. who do you trust..

      • Good on Peter Shelley for lobbying government to restart our industry, just like the UK, US, UAE, Israel, Singapore and others are doing. Morrison is loosing taxpayers 5bn a month by shutting our industry. Sydney uni have published a very good study on the cost, it’s horrendous. When will people realise the political class are increasing inflation and eating into your supers – meanwhile business – who know EXACTLY what is going on, are trying to stimulate the economy and recover!!!

atec australia Australian Tourism Export Council border reopening Border restrictions international border international travel peter shelley scott morrison

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