Updated: Australia further relaxes border ban to attract working holidaymakers

Australia is further relaxing Covid border restrictions as it continues to take further steps to safely reopen to the world.

Additional changes to international border arrangements come into effect on December 1.

Skilled migrants and international students, as well as citizens from Japan and South Korea, will be among those allowed entry to the country providing they are fully vaccinated.

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Eligible visa holders also include humanitarian, working holidaymakers and provisional family visa holders.

More than 40,000 young Brits travelled to Australia for a working holiday in pre-pandemic 2019.

A number of operators in the UK offer working holiday visa packages to Australia, including Trailfinders, Student Universe and Gap360.

Tourism Australia plans dedicated marketing campaigns with key distribution partners “to maximise opportunities to drive visa sign ups and drive recovery for Australia’s hard-hit tourism economy”.

A spokesperson said: “For our partners like Trailfinders, Contiki and so on who sell working holiday visa packages, we expect this will be very welcome news.”

Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said: “The return of eligible working holiday makers to Australia from 1 December is welcome news for our tourism industry.

“Working holidaymakers are crucial to the tourism sector as these young travellers tend to stay longer, spend more and disperse more widely as they travel whilst also providing a flexible source of workers by combining their time in Australia with work and travel plans.”

UK and Northern Europe regional general manager Sally Cope added: “Among our international markets, the UK is number one for the volume of working holidaymaker arrivals and in 2019, there were over 44,000 such visas granted to young travellers from across the UK and Ireland.

“After a period of such disruption over the past eighteen months, an Australian working holiday is a fantastic opportunity to reboot by having an extended overseas adventure by working as well as travelling.”

They must return a negative Covid test in the three days before departure.

The announcement follows earlier changes which have seen fully vaccinated Australians, permanent residents and their immediate family members allowed entry from November 1.

A statement said: “These changes demonstrate the success of our national plan, as the government continues to get Australia back to normal and reopen to the world safely.”

The move “will ensure we continue to protect the health of Australians, while reuniting families and securing our economic recovery by opening our border to skilled and student visa holders.

“The return of skilled workers and international students to Australia will further cement our economic recovery, providing the valuable workers our economy needs and supporting our important education sector.”

Sam Willan, general manager of StudentUniverse UK, said: “After what seems like a lifetime of waiting, we’re thrilled to see Australia’s borders reopening to students and WHM visa holders from December.

“With over 2,500 British students heading to Australia every year to study, the new easing of entry restrictions is great news for those looking to take their studies international.

“It’s also an exciting opportunity for Brits aged 18-30 wanting to live and work in Australia – typically, the UK is Australia’s biggest market for this visa type, with 27,355 visas granted to Brits in 2019. 

“We’ve long known that Australia is incredibly popular with young travellers looking to study or work overseas. There are many reasons why young travellers are keen to explore the country – so it’s no surprise that flight searches have increased tenfold over the past month, and even more since the announcement on Monday.”

Additionally, the Australian government said: “Under these arrangements, citizens of Japan and the Republic of Korea who hold a valid Australian visa will be able to travel from their home country quarantine-free to participating states and territories, without needing to seek a travel exemption.”

The move came as Qantas international flights from Melbourne resumed for the first time in 20 months with a service to Singapore after the pandemic grounded international travel.

The airline will also launch a new route from Melbourne to Delhi four times a week from December 22.

The service will initially operate via Adelaide, while flights from Delhi to Melbourne will be non-stop.

This follows the recent announcement of flights from Sydney to Delhi, which start next month. When this route went on sale, Qantas claimed the fastest booking surge for flights leaving Australia since the airline announced its international restart plans in August.

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