International tourists will not be welcomed back to Australia until next year, with the return of skilled migrants and students being given higher priority, the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia is expected to hit 80 percent of the population aged 16 and over on a second dose.
Last week, he outlined plans to allow vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to fly abroad from November for the first time since an exceptionally strict entry ban came into force in March last year.
But Mr Morrison said today (Tuesday) that the next priority after Australians would be qualified migrants and international students entering Australia before tourists.
Australian immigration is at its lowest level since World War II due to pandemic restrictions.
The pandemic is also having a catastrophic impact on Australian universities, which are heavily dependent on international student fees. The education sector fears students in other countries will enroll in other countries unless Australia opens its border to them soon.
The Prime Minister told Seven: “The next priorities are skilled migrants, who are very important to the country and who are double vaccinated, as well as students coming and returning to Australia to study. We will also reach international visitors, I believe, next year. ”
The Australian Tourism Export Council, which represents a sector that made AU $ 45 billion (£ 24 billion) a year from international tourists before the pandemic, wants international visitors to return by March.
Australia is trying to vaccinate its population as an outbreak of the more contagious Delta variant that began in Sydney in June continues to spread.
The state of Victoria today reported a national record of 1,763 new local infections and four Covid-19 deaths.
The previous national record of 1,599 infections in 24 hours was set by New South Wales when the outbreak peaked on September 10th.
New South Wales leads the other states in vaccination rates and Sydney Airport is set to be the first to reopen to vaccinated travelers.
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