The reopening of Australia’s international borders next month was the best news Australians have had in a long time, given that many will finally have the opportunity to reunite with family and loved ones overseas.
“I believe a Greek summer in 2022 is looking very possible,” Cosmos Tours travel agent Jaqui Prekets told Neos Kosmos but she urged people not to book anything until the Australian government has officially announced a border reopening date, as well as outline regulations for both outbound and inbound travel. “Until then, everything is still subject to change.”
Kon Kavalakis, managing director of Grecian Tours, is of the same mind – that we should be patient for another month or two – “because there are a few important details that the government needs to clarify, before we can comfortably book our flight to our first overseas destination”.
The first step is for each state to reach its vaccination target for reopening, which is getting 80 per cent of their population fully-vaccinated. “New South Wales is set to reach that milestone around the 14-17 November and Victoria follows closely, aiming for the end of November, early December.”
Mr Kavalakis, expects that once this happens, the government will announce a clear roadmap of what international travel will look like. What interests us most, he stressed, will be which destinations the government will allow us to travel to without the need to quarantine in a hotel upon our return.
Like most other countries, Australia will probably divide the world into “Green” and “Red” zones which will affect our travel plans, as well as our budget.
Demand set to surge
Mr Kavalakis is optimistic that International Airlines will have enough time to prepare for the surge in demand for a European Summer holiday, once they receive the details from the government. At the moment, Ms Prekets says, “the airlines have not yet been told when the passenger loading cap will be lifted”, nor which countries will be available for Australians to travel to.
Travel agencies have been flooded with calls and emails from clients who are desperate to travel abroad. “We have a list of people who have asked to be on our contact list for immediate contact as soon as that announcement is made,” Ms Prekets explained.
Many Greek Australians have also reached out to HelloWorld Travel in Oakleigh, hoping to schedule a vacation to Greece, especially during the Greek Summer months, travel agent, Christos Niaros told Neos Kosmos. “But we still do not have a final date or information on how international travel will resume, at least for now,” though he expects we will know more in the next few weeks.
And as we wait for more information, Ms Prekets urges people to be prepared with a valid passport for at least 12 months, so they won’t be disappointed when the time comes, and to “understand that the nature of travel as we knew it will be very different.” Airlines, she says, are likely to accept only fully vaccinated travellers, with a vaccine passport being trialled in Singapore through IATA, whilst mandatory self-quarantine at home is also very likely.
So even though we can easily book our tickets online for Greece and other destinations, it would not be wise to do, until we have the full picture. If bookings are made before, and things change in the meantime, there is no guarantee that we will get our money back, if we need to cancel.
The only certain overseas vacations at the moment, for vaccinated Australians are London and Los Angeles where Qantas is due to take off from Sydney, from 15th of November onwards. Qantas will only start gradually adding other destinations from mid December following government announcements on covid-safe destinations abroad.
To keep up to date with the official COVID-19 news for overseas travellers and visa holders visit www.homeaffairs.gov.au