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Most travellers back plan to reopen Australia and get moving

September 15, 2021 Coronavirus (Covid-19), Headline News No Comments

Four in five Australian travellers say border closures should become a thing of the past as soon as 80% of eligible Australians are fully vaccinated, according to latest research.

A study commissioned by the Australian Airports Association (AAA) found 44% of respondents felt a double vaccination rate of 80% or higher should bring an end to snap border closures, with 35% suggesting a vaccination rate lower than that.

The survey, completed by 500 Australians who had travelled in the past five years, found about two thirds (64%) of respondents would support the slow opening of Australia’s international border once 80% of the population had received two vaccine doses.

AAA Chief Executive James Goodwin says the research, conducted this month, shows most travellers back the Australian Government’s reopening plan.

“It is clear that as vaccination rates increase, Australians want to be able to reconnect with family, friends and get back to business, Goodwin said.

“People have been frustrated by the constant lockdowns and state border closures which they’ve been forced to endure for more than a year-and-a-half.

“It’s clear the Delta variant is here and it’s here to stay. Australians need to get on with living their lives – and looking at this research, the vast majority want the states and territories to open up so they can start travelling again with the confidence and certainty of a highly vaccinated community.”

Australia’s international borders are likely to open when Australia hits the 80% fully vaccinated threshold. But travel will open up only to designated “safe” countries, and to people who are vaccinated.

Commenting on the continual lockdowns and border closures, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said recently: “This groundhog day has to end, and it will end when we start getting to 70% and 80%.”

The AAA study found 70% of travellers were supportive of home quarantine pilot programs for fully vaccinated Australians returning from overseas.  Over two-thirds (68%) of travellers said they would travel internationally if they were not required to quarantine at both ends of the journey. This was a significantly higher percentage than the 61% who answered affirmatively when the same question was asked in April 2021.

Meanwhile, 78% of respondents backed an international travel trial, to be conducted prior to travelling themselves.

“This suggests Australians are looking forward to a less restricted but safe and steady form of international travel in the future,” Goodwin said.

The landscape for vaccine intentions has shifted significantly since April 2021, with the proportion of people not intending on being vaccinated in the future falling from 27% in April to 13% today, suggesting a reduction in vaccine hesitancy.

Sydney Airport. Very quiet. 1 June 2021

Lockdowns and border closures, however, are affecting morale.

“Unsurprisingly, confidence levels for Australians currently wanting to travel outside their local area has plummeted,” Goodwin revealed.

“Only 46% say they would leave the region they live in, compared to 63% when asked the same question in April.

“The high proportion of Australians currently under lockdown or some form of Covid-19 restriction has driven a significant decline in willingness to and confidence in travelling domestically. Willingness to travel interstate has also seen a major decline, from 82% willing in April to just 59% in September.”

As in the previous two surveys, one in three travellers (34% in the latest survey) said their savings had deteriorated as a result of Covid-19. Almost one in four said their savings levels had increased (22%). Almost 80% of those whose savings had increased said they planned to use the extra funds to go travelling when it was safe to do so.

“We can see Australians are still looking forward to being able to travel in future and these results suggest travellers would back a plan for governments to support airports, as the effects of the pandemic continue to place pressure on them,” Goodwin said.

More than 70% of respondents said they would be concerned if their local airport was forced to close or operate at reduced hours due to financial challenges deriving from current lockdowns and border closures.

The Australian Airports Association, which commissioned the survey, is the national voice for Australian airports, representing the interests of more than 330 airports and aerodromes and 120 corporate members across Australia.

Edited by Peter Needham

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