Tourism

Tourism minister warns international travel ban could extend to 2021

As Australia nears the one-month mark of the federal government’s international travel ban, Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham believes it could remain for “quite some period of time”.

Speaking to the ABC’s News Breakfast at the weekend, Simon Birmingham was asked, hypothetically, whether overseas travel would be allowed by the end of the year.

“Look, I wouldn’t put any guarantees that you could undertake that overseas trip in December,” Minister Birmingham told News Breakfast.

“December’s a long time away, and very hard to make predictions about what will happen then, but we could be in this circumstance for quite some period of time.”

His comments follow a consistent message from the federal government, which has repeatedly said the COVID-19 pandemic will affect Australia for at least six months.

See more: Record 87.7 million tourists visited Australia in 2019

Birmingham added that, with the risk of contagion from countries who may not have controlled their spread of the novel virus, despite Australia’s success in arresting the outbreak in-country, international travel may not resume for some time.

But while trips overseas are certainly on pause, the minister, on multiple occasions, encouraged Australians to start dreaming about domestic travel.

“This is a time where, unfortunately, people can’t undertake holidays and they won’t be able to overseas for quite some time to come,” he said.

“And there may be a slightly earlier point in time where it becomes feasible to think about domestic travel again.

“We’re not there yet, but certainly this time is a good time for a bit of dreaming, a bit of planning. Think about that Aussie break that you might take when we do finally get to the other side of this.”

Birmingham concluded by saying that Australia should “resist” and “push back” on any drive towards protectionism or increased barriers around the world, acknowledging that the freedom to export between nations “is crucial to our economic wellbeing into the future”.

As an antidote to restrictions on travel, tourists and travel professionals are making the most of what the virtual space has to offer.

Click here to see Travel Weekly’s ultimate list of live streams and virtual tours to cure cabin fever.

Featured image: iStock.com/tarsov_vl

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