Australian Tourism: Is Australia Open and Do You Need a Visa?

When Sydney hosted the 2000 Summer Olympic games, the world took notice. The successful event sparked interest in the land that was previously referred to only in disparaging off-hand jokes about being the land of the criminals; a sly reference to its colonial history as an outpost for British prisoners.

What the world saw during the sweeping broadcast shots in between sporting events were sparkling beaches and slow, sunny days. It is no wonder then why the country saw a tremendous uptick in the number of foreigners visiting over the past two decades, culminating in nearly 9.5 million tourists checking out the land down under in 2019.

That number may not sound super high at first glance. However, when you stop to consider just how far Australia is from other areas of the world like Europe or the United Kingdom—two of the biggest sources of tourists per year—then it begins to sound more impressive.

Unfortunately, that long, steady growth of the tourism sector screeched to a halt in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit. The government was forced to shut its borders in March for a long spell, and whilst they managed to mount a strong effort to stamp out the virus as best as they could, the numbers of visitors dropped precipitously.

Fast forward to autumn 2021 and Australia is busily working to reestablish itself as a safe and memorable global destination. Any travellers who are looking to visit should first find out what the current pandemic-related restrictions are and how they can go about obtaining a visa.

Only citizens from New Zealand are exempt from obtaining permission to enter Australia before arriving. Fortunately, Australian tourism officials have launched country-specific online visa applications to streamline the process. For example, UK passport holders can apply for an Australian visa for British citizens.

Visas aside, the pandemic is what is weighing most heavily on the minds of Australian tourism officials. Read on to find out more information about Australia’s current regulations regarding tourists and about the possibility of planning a trip to see Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and more.

Can Tourists Enter Australia Today?

Although staycations have become more popular than ever in 2021, the good old fashioned holiday appears to be on the rise as well. One of the trickiest aspects of planning a trip while the coronavirus remains a tangible threat is navigating the nuances of each nation’s restrictions regarding who can and cannot enter.

Some countries are allowing all tourists to visit, while others are saying that only vaccinated foreigners are welcome. There also remain countries that say that only vaccinated tourists from certain specific countries are allowed in. It can be overwhelming to keep track of it all.

Before October 2021, Australia had kept its borders shut. Now, slowly but surely, they are re-opening to vaccinated visitors from certain countries, beginning first with their neighbours New Zealand, then moving on to Singapore, Switzerland and others.

An added beauty of this recent news is that these tourists are not required to quarantine upon arrival in Australia. This makes the prospect of visiting a much more attractive proposition. The hope is that more and more people will slowly start to return to Australia.

Instead of letting people come in, resulting in a disorganized free-for-all, the Aussie government is steadily going to increase the number of people it allows to cross its borders as it ramps up to 2022 and, hopefully, a return to the pre-pandemic tourism numbers.

So while it is difficult for many people from the United Kingdom with close family and friends down in Oz, there is hope on the horizon that shortly, the UK will be added to the growing list of nations whose citizens can safely and freely visit.

What Restrictions Remain on Society in Australia?

Despite its size, Australia has a relatively light population. With that said, the majority of its civilians live on the coasts, jammed into big cities like Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Due to these densely populated areas, Australia was forced to implement a high number of restrictions on its citizens to try to limit the spread of the virus.

So, which, if any of those regulations still remain today?

Well, the first thing to remember is that each state in Australia has a certain level of autonomy. That is important because it means that what may be true in one area of the country is not true elsewhere.

With that said, as of November 1st, several states, such as New South Wales (where Sydney is) are now allowing citizens to freely travel throughout, and in some cases even outside of, the state.

Elsewhere, in Victoria (home to Melbourne), a curfew was finally lifted on October 29th, just in time for responsible, socially-distanced people to celebrate Halloween.

Hopefully, as the COVID-19 booster shots begin rolling out and transmission numbers continue falling, more and more restrictions will be lifted.