Destinations

WA tightens entry restrictions after launching new international tourism campaign

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

Western Australia will tighten its restrictions against travellers from NSW from this weekend and halve its international arrivals cap, just days after the state revealed its highly-anticipated border opening date.

From Saturday 18 December, WA will classify NSW as an ‘extreme risk’ in response to the state’s jump in cases which, according to a release from WA authorities, are unlikely to improve in the short term.

This means that from this weekend, travel from NSW to WA will not be permitted unless they can get government approval under extremely strict conditions.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the situation in NSW is “very concerning” given the rapid rise in cases over the past few days, and urged Western Australians currently in NSW to come home “immediately”.

“We need to do everything we can to keep Western Australia safe, while we get WA’s vaccination rate up to 90 per cent and remain free of COVID in the community,” he said.

“As NSW has been at ‘high risk’ for some time now, many who would have wanted to return to WA for the end of the year would have arrived already to ensure they are undertaking their 14 days of self-quarantine under the ‘high risk’ rules.

“Anyone else approved to travel within the limited ‘extreme risk’ rules will be undertaking 14 days of hotel quarantine to better protect WA, and this is why it’s important we keep capacity in our hotel quarantine system and why we are halving the international arrivals cap.”

On Monday, Mcgowan revealed the state would open its borders on 5 February 2022 after almost two years of isolating itself from the world.

Under WA’s controlled interstate border, travel is permitted from ‘very low risk’ jurisdictions (Tasmania) and is also permitted from ‘low risk’ jurisdictions (Queensland and Northern Territory), with 14 days of self-quarantine and relevant COVID-19 testing.

The ACT and South Australia remain at the ‘medium risk’ setting, which means travel is only permitted for approved categories of travellers. Victoria remains in the ‘extreme risk’ category.

“This is not a situation to take lightly and it is necessary because my priority is the health of Western Australians first and foremost,” McGowan said.

The state will also move to halve the international arrivals cap from December 23. WA is currently receiving 530 arrivals each week.

The news came just after the state’s government launched an international campaign to attract visitors, students, investors and workers to the state.

The campaign is titled “Western Australia – It’s like no other”, and, according to McGowan, it promotes the safe, stable and strong lifestyle WA has built despite the threat from COVID-19.

“Western Australians enjoy the kind of lifestyle many people across the world only dream about,” he said.

“Western Australia is safe, stable and strong, and we are looking forward to welcoming the world back to our shores.”

The campaign marks the initial stage of the WA Government’s $65 million marketing campaign to promote WA, which is comprised of a number of marketing initiatives to be launched across various target markets and industries.

“While the state is known for its wealth of natural beauty and resources, there’s so much more to know, experience and discover about Western Australia – it really is like no other,” McGowan said.

In response to the new campaign, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)’s managing director for Australasia Joel Katz has urged the government to include a pathway toward supporting small-scale expedition cruising in the Kimberly in its plans to rebuild the tourism industry.

He said that ordinarily, these ships generate millions of dollars a year for the Kimberley and communities along the state’s northern coast.

“Expedition ships provide an excellent opportunity to begin a carefully controlled resumption of cruising with extensive health measures in place, but we need the federal, state and territory governments to urgently agree on health protocols before the upcoming winter season is lost,” Katz said.

Ships with under 100 people on board are already sailing successfully in Australia with tried and tested Covid-19 health measures in place, including in the Kimberley.

With this in mind, Katz said allowing other expedition operators with up to 200 passengers to return to Western Australia and the Northern Territory – with similar health protocols including testing and vaccination requirements for all passengers and crew – would provide much-needed tourism income for communities in the country’s north-west.

“Cruising has changed enormously in response to the pandemic and the work our industry has done with medical experts internationally has resulted in health protocols that are successful in mitigating the risks of Covid-19,” Katz said.

“With vaccination rates increasing and borders opening, we need agreement on the way forward for expedition cruise ships before the upcoming Kimberley season is lost and travellers look to destinations overseas.”

Earlier this week, Australia’s cruise ship ban was extended for another two months despite the Health Minister previously predicting it would be lifted by Christmas.


Featured image: Facebook/MarkMcGowanMP


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