Australia's border reopening

 The reopening of Australia's international borders has been heralded as an\ opportunity to re-invigorate the nation's struggling tourism and aviation sectors

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said borders will reopen to double-vaccinated visa holders from February 21 as COVID-19 cases and ICU admissions continue to decline

"This is the exciting announcement the aviation sector has been waiting for," Australian Airports Association (AAA) Chief Executive James Goodwin said

"International travel is only at 15 per cent of pre-COVID levels so this is a positive step to help the recovery of the aviation and tourism sectors."

Mr Goodwin noted domestic routes would also get a vital boost from the return of international travellers.

"International tourists don't just visit one Australian city," he said

"They fly from state to state to see all of what our nation has to offer so it is vital all domestic borders reopen and stay open."

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce also welcomed today's border announcement

"Borders reopening to international tourists means Australia is finally back open for business," Mr Joyce said

"We will be looking at our schedules to see if we can restart flights from more international destinations sooner or add capacity to those routes we are already flying

"We have the flexibility to ramp up flights in response to demand."

Earlier today, Mr Morrison said the government had been working to progressively re-open Australia's borders since November of 2021.

"Those programs have proceeded very successfully - whether it was the programs we had in place with New Zealand or Singapore, and then with Japan and South Korea, opening up to international students and backpackers and economic migrants who are coming to Australia, that will now be extended to international visitors who will be able to return," Mr Morrison said

Mr Morrison said international travellers would be welcomed back into the country, providing they were double-vaccinated against COVID-19.

"That's the rule," he said

"Everyone is expected to abide by it and it's very important that people understand that requirement if they're seeking to come to Australia.

"If you're double-vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia and I know the tourism industry will be looking forward to that."

Mr Morrison said the high-profile deportation of unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic "should have sent a very clear message to everyone around the world that is the requirement to enter into Australia".

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said anyone not vaccinated who wants to come to Australia would have to apply for an exemption.

"They will have to provide proof that there is a medical reason that they cannot be vaccinated," she said

Ms Andrews is tipping a tourism boom for the hammered sector, almost two years after Australia closed its international borders.

Since November, when border restrictions first began to loosen for travel from a small number of countries, 300,000 people have visited Australia.

But tourism operators have been crying out for international big-spenders.

In the year 2018-19, tourism generated more than $60 billion for the Australian economy.

State-based flight caps on international arrivals and quarantine arrangements are set to continue.

Mr Morrison said it was "up to state governments to alter those, as they see fit"

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