In what is a major breakthrough for the chances of foreign travel, people arriving in NSW will be able to quarantine at home instead of in a hotel.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced 175 fully vaccinated Qantas staff will take part in a four-week test of the new system, which will only require people to be in isolation for seven days.
The news was welcomed by NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres. “We want to be able to open up at Sydney and NSW as quickly as possible, so this is a really crucial step,” he said.
The scheme, once it has passed the test, should be widely available once NSW hits the 80 per cent target, currently expected in November. The state is currently at 50 per cent.
The 80 per cent mark will trigger the chance to open international boards and return foreign-flagged cruise ships to the country. “That is Aussies coming back home through Sydney Airport, but also our citizens having the opportunity to go overseas where previously they weren’t able to.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the news, saying NSW “will be leading the way with this trial that could set the standard for the next phases of the way we live with COVID-19.”
“This could mean more families and friends being able to reunite more quickly, more business being able to be done here, and more workers for key industries being able to fill critical jobs.”
Police will monitor the test using smart phones.
One big advantage is that home quarantine removes the high cost of up to $6,000 of hotel quanrantine.
“I don‘t think we’ll be charging people to stay in their own home,” Mr Ayres said.
So if you’re looking a holiday, we chatted to some experts.
Should I book a holiday right now?
Some airlines like Qantas have revealed they will resume flights in on December 18, while Flight Centre’s boss, Graham Turner said that he anticipates other airlines like Emirates might start flying sooner. If you’re in NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said she hopes to start international travel as soon as the state reaches its 80 per cent vaccination milestone. And Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated that he will allow each state to start international travel as they see fit.
Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David said, “While it’s up to Government to determine exactly how and when our international borders re-open, Australia is on track to meet the 80 per cent vaccination trigger by December, which means international travel is within reach.”
The airline also told Explore that it saw almost a tripling of customer searching for international flights (175 per cent) in the week since the national carrier announced its plan for restarting international flights.
In terms of domestic travel, Qantas, Jetstar, and Virgin Australia are offering cut price flights from travel starting from October, giving us some indication that domestic travel should start by the end of the year.
Should I go overseas or travel domestically?
Flight Centre’s General Manager Kelly Spencer said the choice is yours but the safety and freedom to do more of both are becoming increasingly likely. “If your heart is set on an overseas holiday, go for it. Just be prepared for international travel to be a little more complex in the post-COVID world,” she said.
“So when you’re planning your next overseas trip, having a travel agent by your side to walk you through all the new requirements will make things a lot easier. We know the new post-COVID travel territory and we’re here to help.”
A Qantas spokesperson said that it would be launching October sales for both its flagship and Jetstar with prices starting from as low as $99. The routes include Albury, Tamworth, Dubbo, Griffith, Orange to Sydney.
“After months in lockdown, we know that many people in New South Wales are keen to getaway on holidays or see family and friends.
“With the NSW Government expected to reopen regional travel around the state from mid-October, we are offering discounted fares to make it even easier for people to get out and see their own backyard as well as see family and friends.
“Getting more people into the regions will be welcome news for local businesses, hospitality and tour operators that have been hurting from COVID-19 and travel restrictions.”
Where are the best places for me to go?
If you are looking for a domestic holiday, Justine Yusi, an Expedia Travel Expert advises to look for holidays close to home.
“With uncertainty around state borders, Aussies should take this time to rediscover the hidden gems in their backyard. The beauty of being in Australia is having beautiful spots just a few hours’ drive away for many of the states and territories. Whether it’s the vast and beautiful countryside, or a relaxing coastal town, there are different types of holidays for every type of traveller,” she said.
“With various restrictions still in place across the country, we’d advise travellers to check the latest health and travel advisories before booking and travelling, this includes whether there are any entry requirements for both the destination and origin.”
Flight Centre are suggesting Singapore, Hawaii and Norway for international destinations, and are advising to book early for Australia’s domestic holiday spots like Cairns and Kakadu.
“With more destinations around the world opening up daily, and many cruises for 2022 and 2023 already booking out for example, we’re urging people to book now. So, yes, get ahead of the rush and book that holiday to Cairns, Kakadu, Hawaii or Europe now,” said Ms Spencer.
“We’re anticipating that once borders open, the Australian government will be allowing a degree of free travel in and out of Australia and between states for people who are fully vaccinated. So, to ensure you get to enjoy that holiday you’ve been dreaming of, make sure you’ve had both your COVID jabs.”
Can I get travel insurance? How do I make sure I don’t lose my money?
Travel insurance will become an important factor when international travel resumes. Some cruise lines in America and the United Kingdom require, particularly, unvaccinated passengers to take out travel insurance before boarding.
While not all insurance providers are offering travel insurance yet, nib is offering packages for travellers, that will cover them if they get sick.
In its terms and conditions, NIB states that if you get sick with coronavirus on your trip, all of nib’s International, travel insurance plans include cover for overseas medical expenses, their plans cover for medical evacuations and repatriation, and they will cover coronavirus travel costs including quarantine expenses and trip cancellation if you are diagnosed with COVID-19. So far, nib are the only insurance company which is offering coronavirus related travel insurance.
Ms Yusi said when booking a holiday, travellers should look for more flexible options.
“Travellers should also consider refundable or flexible travel options to have peace of mind in case plans need to be changed or cancelled. Expedia’s ‘free cancellation’ or ‘Book Now, Pay Later’ filters offer travellers options with flexible and refundable rates,” she said.
She also advised travellers to book early, and perhaps to anticipate price rises.
“As confidence in travel grows, the industry will naturally react and offer attractive offers to encourage Aussies to get exploring once again. While it’s still too early to say if prices will increase, we do expect demand to grow closer to key holiday periods.
“If flexibility and time allows, travellers could benefit by securing deals in the off-peak periods, where accommodation providers are needing the support more compared to peak seasons – travellers can also avoid the busy crowds by holidaying outside of these key periods.”