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

    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

Latest News

  • Cruise

Seabourn introduces enhanced groups programs for travel advisors

Leading ultra-luxury cruising and expedition travel company, Seabourne, proudly announces the “Seabourn Enhanced Groups Program” to elevate business prospects for travel advisors. This program introduces a revamped Tour Conductor Credit that offers shipboard credits or bonus commission for bookings. It also eliminates the need for deposits for small group allotments and increases group capacity. “Seabourn […]

  • Cruise

MSC World America to become the ultimate family destination at sea

MSC Cruises’ latest world-class ship is set to redefine family cruising with unprecedented spaces and activities, including ones developed in partnership with the LEGO® group. The cruise line announced that its new flagship will feature seven distinct districts, each bringing together a range of tailored experiences. The ship’s blend of American comfort and European design […]

  • Cruise

Ponant’s latest luxury cruise expeditions for 2024 and 2025

Head out to see the beauty of unique destinations on three bucket-list explorations of Australia with Ponant Cruise’s new luxury expeditions. Known for their luxury cruises, Ponant offers unique and truly exceptional sea voyage aboard sleek and intimately sized cruise yachts. They offer a range of discovery expeditions, and launched new cruises that take guests […]

  • News

Liz Anderson steps down from CATO Board after eight years of leadership

The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced that Liz Anderson (at right) will be stepping down from the Board on Wednesday June 19, concluding her eight years as a director. “The eight years that Liz served on the CATO board were the most transformative time in the Association’s history,” CATO Chair Dennis […]

  • Attractions

Comedian Josh Thomas road tests swapping day job for Tassie odd jobs

Australians are invited to tap into a 200-million-day annual leave bank* and swap day jobs for one of 10 ‘Odd Jobs’ in Tasmania this off-season including Wombat Walker, Paranormal Investigator, Wine Whisperer and Truffler Snuffler. Tourism Tasmania has today launched Odd Jobs, a tongue-in-cheek campaign designed to encourage Australians to swap their day jobs for […]

  • Aviation
  • News

Christine O’Reilly to replace Peter Hay as chair of Australia Pacific Airports Corporation

Christine O’Reilly has been named as the new chair of Australia Pacific Airports Corporation (APAC) – the owner of Melbourne and Launceston Airports. According to a release, O’Reilly will replace Peter Hay on 1 October, who retires after five years as Chair of APAC. APAC CEO Lorie Argus said O’Reilly’s appointment comes at an exciting […]

  • Tourism

The number one thing you can’t forget if you’re going to Europe & The Olympics

As the Summer Olympics in Paris draws near, travel insurance comparison site Compare the Market is urging travellers to safeguard their European summer sports dreams by getting travel insurance for when the unexpected happens. While France seems like a decently safe country to visit, it’s crucial not to overlook the potential risks that could disrupt a holiday. From bed […]

  • Destinations
  • Partner Content

The Solomon Islands’ is ‘Kulture-plus’

Be grateful that your experience of 'headhunting' is limited to some random dude reaching out to you on LinkedIn.

Partner Content

by Travel Weekly

Travel Weekly
  • Cruise

Cruise Traveller’s new Scottish Highlands cruise tour package

Australian small ship cruising specialist, Cruise Traveller, offers a 20-night land and sea holiday in the UK aboard the Lord of the Glens. The tiny cruise line’s 52-guest boutique vessel, Lord of the Glens, is purpose-built to explore the intricate waterways and lochs of the Scottish Highlands. It boasts a rich, traditional ambience with polished […]

  • Cruise

Celebrity Xcel’s keel-laying ceremony in France, with 2025 inaugural sail planned

Construction has commenced on Celebrity Cruises’ next ship, Celebrity Xcel, with a keel-laying ceremony at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. An Edge Series ship, Celebrity Xcel will set sail in autumn 2025, with several new yet-to-be-revealed offerings. At the ceremony, Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group (RCG), the parent […]

  • Destinations
  • Tour Operators

Globus unveils nine new independent tours for 2025

Coach touring brand Globus has unveiled nine new independent tours for 2025, from Bangkok to Bali and Abu Dhabi to Nepal. “With Globus Independent tours, our guests are free to enjoy the many benefits of touring, untethered and unscheduled,” APAC head of marketing, Globus family of brands (GFOB), Chris Fundell said. “Providing hand-picked hotel accommodations, […]

  • Hotels

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group opens Mandarin Oriental Mayfair

The Mandarin Oriental has opened a second property in London, the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair, in the heart of historic Hanover Square. Designed by internationally renowned Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, the hotel is the first new build in Mayfair in over a decade. Bringing a modern architectural approach to one of London’s most storied squares, […]