Australians are hitting the road, flagging a summer of domestic travel Down Under as state border restrictions ease and the federal government continues a ban on overseas travel.
Australians can only travel overseas with special exemptions, and the latest signals from Canberra suggest that the no-fly ban won’t change until well into next year, pending the arrival of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Qantas has already stopped selling tickets on its flights to the US and the UK until the end of October 2021, with CEO Alan Joyce suggesting that travel to both countries is unlikely to restart until the end of next year.
And while Australia has established a safe, quarantine-free travel zone for New Zealanders arriving in Australia, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern says her country will only open up to travellers from Australia when her government believes it's safe to do so.
In the meantime, Australians, freed from lockdowns, are rushing to explore their own backyards.
Some restrictions remain but with Australia’s worst Covid-affected state, Victoria, enjoying 10 transmission-free days, as of 9 November, the state government has removed the blockade around Melbourne, allowing city residents, who have been in home quarantine for 123 days, to travel to regional areas of Victoria.
Brendan McClements, CEO at Visit Victoria, said the new ‘Stay Close, Go Further’ travel campaign will encourage holidays within the state and will have a focus on those areas that “had the double whammy with the bushfires as well as coronavirus".
Caravan and campervan hiring platform, Camplify, said it has seen a surge of 70% in regional Victorian holiday bookings.
“We’re so pleased to see Victorians are finally able to hit the road again and travel within their state. For many van owners, this will also provide a much needed second income after a challenging year,” said Justin Hales, CEO of Camplify.
Across Australia, state governments remain cautious and are holding off from removing all restrictions on gatherings.
Access to the Sydney CBD for the city’s New Year’s Eve fireworks will be restricted to people with bookings to city restaurants, pubs and clubs. Designated viewing areas that usually attract tens of thousands of people will be reserved for healthcare and frontline workers holding tickets to attend.
In Queensland, tourism experiences, accommodation, dining in restaurants, cafes, pubs, registered or licensed clubs, food courts and hotels, nightclubs and casinos, can all operate with required Covid-Safe documentation in place.
From 14 November, Western Australia will transition to a controlled interstate border, whereby travel from ‘very low risk’ states such as South Australia will be permitted, with conditions on arrival.
The state is also encouraging regional travel within Western Australia with its “Wander Out Yonder’ tourism campaign.