Australia’s strict pandemic border policy has led some to wonder if international travelers still want to visit.
It seems so.
Four weeks after the country opened up to vaccinated visitors, according to travel technology company Travelport, the number of international flight bookings is almost half (49%) compared to the pre-pandemic situation.
CNBC Travel went to Down Down to answer common questions about traveling to Australia.
On average, less than 500 international flights per week landed in Australia in March – from 2,000 in March 2019 – according to Tourism Australia.
However, international flights are expected to double in the next three months, particularly from Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia and Hong Kong, according to Tourism Australia.
An increase in supply usually leads to cheaper flights, but Qantas has indicated this month the price of air tickets is likely to rise due to higher oil prices due to the Ukrainian-Russian war, Reuters reported.
Australia is currently welcome vacationers who can show:
- An foreign vaccination card – unvaccinated passengers need an exemption or must be quarantined in the facility for one week
- A Digital passenger declaration completed at the earliest one week, but no later than 72 hours before departure
- We accept a negative test result for Covid-19 – PCR and self-service rapid antigen tests (called “rat” in Australia) under the supervision of online consultants
- Valid passport and tourist visa
Passengers should also check the entry rules for the state or territory where they are landing for additional requirements.
Since most documents are checked during the departure process, landing in Australia is surprisingly easy.
During last week’s trip to Melbourne, all I had to do was show me my passport and arrival card, which I filled out on the plane.
The hardest part about traveling to Australia is the preparation, not the travel itself, several travelers have told CNBC.
James O’Neil | Image bank Getty Images
New Zealander Debbie Wong said it was a reflection of her February trip to Queensland.
“This process was faster than in the days before Covid because there were fewer people at the airport,” she said. “What took us more than an hour before Covid was completed in 20 minutes.”
Wong, who has flown twice from Singapore to Australia since last summer, described the process as “incredibly smooth.”
Wong’s husband Wes Johnston went on a business trip to Sydney two weeks ago.
“I didn’t have to show anything related to Covid,” he said.
Yes – but most likely only for a few hours.
Countries such as New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland require passengers to take the Covid test within 24 hours of arriving in Australia. Visitors must isolate at home or at the hotel until they have a negative test.
These countries also accept rapid antigen tests. I packed one in my luggage and handed it to myself at my hotel. If the test was positive, I would have to report the result and isolate for seven days. Since it was negative, I was able to start my trip.
The answer depends on the country you are visiting and what you plan to do.
In Melbourne and Sydney, masks are no longer needed in most environments. However, Victoria (home in Melbourne) asks people to wear one when leaving their homes.
In both places, masks are required on public transport, including flights, taxis and carpooling services. The driver of Uber in Melbourne told me that since he takes care of his 83-year-old mother, he will fire the unsuitable riders and cancel their reservations.
Other Melburns were more relaxed in masks. Restaurant and cafe workers have to wear them, which most had – under the chin.
Wong said she saw the same thing in Noose, a resort on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
“The staff was often without masks or pulled under their chins,” she said of her February trip. Still, “outside of hospitality, most people followed the rules.”
Queensland rules have changed since then, and masks are no longer needed in social and retail settings. However, travelers to Western Australia – home of Perth and the Margaret River wine region – should be aware that even if the relaxed rules take effect on March 31, masks are required in all but domestic areas.
Again, it depends – and in some cases on the specific device visited.
In Sydney, most places are open to everyone, vaccinated or not.
Johnston said he never wore a mask in Sydney, or in restaurants or his workplace, nor was he ever asked to show his vaccination status.
“It was as if Covid didn’t exist,” he said.
Before entering the men’s A-League match between Perth Glory and the Central Coast Mariners at HBF Park on March 15, 2022 in Perth, Australia, the masked spectator will have her vaccination certificate verified.
Paul Kane | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images
Compare that to Western Australia, which requires proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, indoor entertainment, attractions, stadiums, gyms and theme parks.
In Melbourne, I was often asked to show my vaccination status, which I did through a government application from Singapore, where I live. Wong said she wore a physical copy of her vaccination in Queensland, although she said the rule was not strictly followed in some places.
“Some cafes and restaurants have signed that they do not differentiate between people and accept everyone – in clear violation of the rules,” she said.
This may. From using QR codes for business registration to finding out that your favorite coffee shop is permanently closed, we are constantly reminded of how a pandemic has changed the experience of traveling in Australia.
Melbourne’s fashion salesman Carlton told me things were quieter than before the pandemic, and then said, “although I don’t really remember what a ‘normal’ feeling is anymore.”
The inscriptions “Help is sought” were ubiquitous in the state of Victoria. One restaurant manager in the small town of Olinda said she could not open the entire restaurant – not because of social distance – but because of a lack of staff.
Prior to opening for vaccinated tourists last month, Australia welcomed vaccinated backpackers in hopes of helping to alleviate the labor shortages in agriculture and other sectors caused by Covid’s policy at closed borders in the country.
David Gray | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Blue Hills Berries & Cherries Farm is close by, close to the Yarra Valley Wine Region. ended the whole harvest season this year due to “visitor uncertainty and projected labor shortages,” it said on its website.
Australia, like the United States and Europe, suffers from a severe shortage of workers in the tourism and hospitality sectors. Earlier this year, it launched an advertising campaign and visa return program to attract long-term visitors to alleviate staff shortages in agriculture and other sectors.