The prospect of a ban on Australians travelling overseas being extended to 2021 was described as “likely the case” by Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham. Credit: AAP/Getty

CANBERRA, 18 JUNE 2020 (7 NEWS/AAP)—After confirming there’s next to no chance of an overseas holiday for the foreseeable future, the federal government is pushing its case for Australians to explore their own backyards.

The prospect of a ban on Australians travelling overseas being extended to 2021 was described as “likely the case” by Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham on Wednesday.

“I do, sadly, think that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off,” he told the National Press Club.

Australians can forget traveling overseas until next year the Federal Government warning the coronavirus risk remains too high in some countries.

“(That’s) just because of the practicalities of the volumes that are involved and the need for us to first and foremost keep putting health first.”

Nearly 10 million Australians spent $65 billion (US$44.7 billion) on overseas travel last year.

It’s those numbers which the government is hoping will be refocused towards helping domestic tourism operators reeling from the bushfires and coronavirus pandemic.

“For those Australians who can afford to do so, we want them to feel an almost patriotic duty to get out and support the jobs and small businesses of their fellow citizens by having whatever Aussie holiday they can,” Birmingham said.

“That could mean instead of the beaches of Bali, it could be the beaches of Byron Bay.

“I hope Australians use this time to travel across our magical continent and become better-informed ambassadors of all that we have to offer.”

The closure of state borders has been a sticking point in preventing Australians from holidaying farther afield throughout the country.

South Australia reopened its borders to people from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania from Wednesday.

Big theme parks on the Gold Coast to open, with COVID-19 safety measures, from next week.

Queensland is expected to reopen to interstate visitors from July 10, midway through the NSW school holidays.

Birmingham also indicated the government wants to better encourage and highlight Indigenous tourism once Australia does open its borders to foreign visitors.

“The stories of the oldest living culture in the world should be anchored in the experiences our nation shares with cultural tourists from around the world,” he said.

Meanwhile, Canberra will be the first city to reopen its university campuses to international students.

University of Canberra and the Australian National University will fly in 350 students in July as part of a pilot programme backed by the ACT and federal governments.

University of Canberra vice-chancellor Paddy Nixon said the pilot would be important for Australia’s entire higher education sector.

“This is exactly what the pilot is about, it’s establishing all the feasibility, all the costs, all of the protocols that will go with it,” Professor Nixon told AAP on Wednesday.

He said final details were still being sorted but students would fly in from a hub in the Asia-Pacific and then be quarantined in an ACT hotel for 14 days.

They then would be housed on campus to continue their studies in time for the second semester in August….PACNEWS

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