Australia Welcomes Back Tourists as Two-Year Travel Ban Lifted

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Passengers are starting to arrive in Australia as it allowed travel by double-vaccinated visitors, following almost two years of strict travel bans introduced to stem the spread of Covid-19, Bloomberg News reported. It’s also a long-awaited day for the tourism sector -- which employed about 5% of the nation’s workforce and contributed 3% to the economy prior to the pandemic -- and was already reeling in early 2020 from devastating wildfires. Tourism and trade minister Dan Tehan said that he was confident that the tourism market would “rebound very strongly, very quickly” now the borders are open. The cruise industry could open “in the coming weeks” if the federal government can win the support of one or more state governments, Tehan added. The demise of the fortress Australia policy, which was highlighted when unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic was deported earlier this year, is the latest step in the nation’s shift toward living with the virus. The new approach includes managing the current outbreak of the omicron variant without resorting to lockdowns, after the country hit a 94% vaccination rate for people aged 16 and over and rolled out its booster shot campaign. There are now just a few governments clinging on to Covid zero policies, including Hong Kong, which is fighting a rearguard action against spiraling infections with plans to mass test the entire city. New Zealand is also keeping its borders shut to tourists for now while it grapples with a wave of omicron. Read more.
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