Sitting in my office in London, life feels pretty normal again. There’s queues at the coffee machine, traffic jams are back and I’m even jetting off to Spain for a week on the beach tomorrow. This is largely thanks to vaccinations, which have allowed much of Europe, the USA and elsewhere to open up. And in Australia and New Zealand, vaccinations rates are picking up quickly. Every day Australia gets closer to the well discussed 80% vaccination target. And in the not too distant future, you’ll be jetting off too! Murmurs from the Australian government suggest that the travel ban could end as soon as November! Here are 5 reasons for travellers in Australia and New Zealand to be optimistic about future travel.
#1 Lockdowns are starting to ease
Although Queensland has just seen restrictions tightened again, for the most part things are looking up. Sydney and the rest of New South Wales is likely to begin easing rules in early October, and there has been a modest easing of restrictions in Victoria this week, with outdoor recreation being allowed once again. In New Zealand, Auckland recently moved out of its strictest Level 4 lockdown to Level 3, meaning takeaways are back. And the rest of the country was recently eased to Level 2, bringing relief to many people.
As other countries have realized around the world, COVID lockdowns are not a long term solution. They are effective at saving lives during an initial outbreak, but the economic and social harm they cause has to be kept in mind. And with increasing vaccination rates, lockdowns should become a thing of the past in the near future.
#2 Australia has announced the resumption of international flights
18 December is the date to remember for travel from Australia. That is the day that Qantas plans to resume services on some of its popular long haul routes. London, Tokyo, Singapore, Vancouver, Bali, and Los Angeles are just some of the places that the Australian national carrier is planning to return to before the end of the year, offering hope to travellers that the travel ban is finally on its way out. Yes, there have been several false starts in the past year. But this time it feels like the progress is for real. It’s only a start, but expect supply to pick up as restrictions ease and demand for travel comes rushing back.
#3 Home quarantine is a step in the right direction
In an ideal world there would be no quarantine at all. But the tentative step to trial self-isolation at home as opposed to expensive and frustrating hotel quarantine is certainly a step in the right direction. In Australia, New South Wales will begin a home quarantine trial in October. And the isolation period will be reduced from the current 14 days to just 7, massively helping people with work or other commitments. Similarly, in New Zealand, authorities have announced a self-isolation trial in the run-up to Christmas, which will hopefully mark the start of a return to normal travel.
#4 Insurance has you covered
Understandably, there is plenty of apprehension about travel coming back. What if you catch COVID on holiday and have to stay in an expensive quarantine facility? Thanks to COVID safety measures including testing, this is unlikely. But of course it cannot be ruled out completely. The good news is that many travel insurance providers (including airlines such as Etihad and Emirates) are including COVID-19 cover in their packages. This means that even if the worst should happen, you’ll be protected medically and financially. Just make sure that the relevant cover is included when shopping for your travel insurance.
#5 Travel has cleaned up its act
There’s no hiding the fact that travel can be environmentally damaging. Whether it’s the CO2 emitted by aeroplanes or the damage caused to marine environments by giant cruise ships, COVID has given the travel industry a chance to reset. The fragile Italian city of Venice has moved to ban cruise ships from its city ports. And in mid-September, British Airways became the first carrier to operate a flight using sustainable fuel. The London – Glasgow service ran on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) which is thought to emit 80% fewer carbon emissions than traditional jet fuel. No one is saying there isn’t a lot more to do (we’re including ourselves in this, we’re working on it!). But the COVID shutdowns have allowed the travel industry to take a breath and focus on making itself more sustainable.
We know there’s still a lot that needs to happen before travel feels anything like normal. But the long months of lockdown and quarantine are finally looking like they’re coming to an end. And travel from Australia and New Zealand will soon be back on the agenda. It’ll be here before you know it!
It’s still early days, and there’s no rush. But if you’d like to enquire about a trip for next year then we’re ready and waiting. Drop us a line at [email protected] or call 1300 855 684 (Australia) / 0800 44 77 69 (New Zealand).