Queensland quashes quarantine for international visitors

TEQ, AFTA, QTIC welcome decision to fast-track vaccinated travellers

Whitehaven Beach | Credit: Guillaume Marques/Unsplash

Queensland will officially re-open its borders to fully vaccinated international travellers from 1am tomorrow [Saturday, 22 January 2022], enabling eligible inbound visitors to arrive into the state without having to quarantine.

The move comes a week after Queensland’s domestic borders were relaxed, opening to interstate travel effective 15 January.

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This latest decision for international travel paves the way for Queensland’s tourism industry to begin welcoming back overseas visitors who, pre-COVID-19 were worth $6.1 billion to the state’s visitor economy.

Instead of having to quarantine, fully vaccinated arrivals (Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members) will be required to have a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of arrival, and can arrive from all international locations.

Unvaccinated international travellers arriving in Queensland will continue to be required to quarantine.

Leanne Coddington, CEO of Tourism and Events Queensland, said it was encouraging to see the state taking the “next step forward” and to soon welcome visitors from Singapore, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

“The impacts and challenges of Omicron have hit the industry hard with staffing shortages and other related issues to the supply chain, but we’re confident that we’ll be able to move through that and certainly opening up to international is another great step forward.”

Cairns, Australia

Coddington said TEQ would soon be ramping up its international activity with trade partners.

“The international market is important to Queensland, but we also know the domestic market that you have all worked so hard to capture the imagination of over the last couple of years is super important as well, and we’ll keep on working hard with you to encourage Australians to return to Queensland again and again even as our international borders open,” Coddington said.

TEQ will host an industry update webinar for stakeholders at 1:30pm AEST on Monday 24 January 2022 to discuss the organisation’s approach to rebuilding international markets. Register here.

The Queensland Tourism Industry Council said the decision was an “important and long-awaited step in the recovery of our state’s tourism and hospitality industry. In particular, the easing of restrictions for international workers will help address the critical staffing shortage that our industry is experiencing”.

Lizard Island

Dean Long, CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) also welcomed the Queensland Government’s decision as a “step toward travel returning to normal.”

“The return to more normal international travel conditions for vaccinated international arrivals into Queensland brings another important tourism market back online globally.”

“We thank Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Tourism, Stirling Hinchcliffe for providing a firm date for this which AFTA has been seeking for some time. This also provides an incentive for Queenslanders who have not been fully vaccinated to get the jab and move to a living with COVID mindset which includes holidaying domestically and internationally.”

Glass House Mountains, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

“But it’s a long runway to recovery for Australia’s travel retailers. Australia’s travel agents and businesses have been in hard lockdown for almost 700 days and, with no end in sight, we need the Federal Government to provide financial support so we can continue to support travelling Australians.

“Travellers need travel experts now more than ever and the percentage of all international travel out of Australia booked through travel professionals is rapidly rising from the 7 in every 10 bookings pre-COVID.”

Long said Australia is only going to have a healthy inbound travel sector if the country’s outbound sector is also healthy. “That’s not going to happen without ongoing support until international travel returns to normal.”

Fiji Airways was the first airline to reactivate commercial flights into Queensland following the decision, with the Oneworld Connect carrier to restart operations between Brisbane and Nadi from Sunday 23 January.

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