Australia on Monday fully reopened its international borders to vaccinated travellers to explore the nation. After nearly two years of pandemic-related closings as tourists returned and hundreds of people were reunited with family and friends. More than 50 international flights will reach the country through the day, including 27 touching down in Sydney. Tourism is one of Australia’s biggest industries, worth more than A$60 billion ($43 billion) and employing about 5% of the country’s workforce.
But the sector was crippled after the country shut its borders in March 2020. Once a champion of COVID-suppression strategy, Australia shifted away from its fortress-style controls and relentless lockdowns since late last year and began living with the virus after reaching higher vaccination levels. Skilled migrants, international students and backpackers have been allowed to fly into Australia since November in a staggered reopening practice. As borders fully reopen, Australia’s outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant appears to have passed its peak with hospital admissions steadily falling over the past three weeks.