Earlier this year, department of health secretary Brendan Murphy said he was hopeful Australians could travel overseas again in 2022, as Australia’s vaccination program reached completion and countries around the world achieved herd immunity. However, economic analysts for Deloitte have offered a far grimmer prediction for when Australians can once again be able to travel freely overseas: 2024. This pessimistic forecast was released as part of the latest Deloitte Access Economics quarterly business outlook, which suggested that Australia’s international borders may be one of the last in the world to fully reopen.
In another blow to the tourism industry, the report also stated that quarantine for arrivals – which currently calls for a 14-day isolation period in a mandated hotel, at a cost of $3,000-$4,000 depending on the state – would likely remain in some form for the next three years, as Australia’s effort to maintain 100 per cent suppression of the virus remains a high priority.
However, Deloitte’s report was prepared prior to news breaking that Australia’s vaccine rollout was slower than expected, which could potentially delay border reopenings even further. The vaccine program has been delayed due to federal health authorities’ recommendations that Australians under 50 avoid the AstraZeneca vaccine due to the risk of blood clots, and take the Pfizer vaccine instead – the only other vaccine currently approved for distribution in Australia.
There are some hopeful indications that some international travel will resume in the short term. The travel bubble with New Zealand is still set to commence from April 19, and other travel bubbles with low-risk countries, such as Singapore, are also being discussed by the government, although prime minister Scott Morrison said that a travel corridor with Asia was still “at this stage, some time away”.