Tasmania’s peak tourism body is calling on the state government to consider a rule that would require all visitors into the state to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Key points:

  • Tasmania’s peak tourism body will raise a plan with the state government that would see visitors only enter the state if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 
  • The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania says ongoing border closures and hard lockdowns are not sustainable for local tourism businesses
  • Tourism operators say the proposal would provide security for their businesses and restore confidence to travellers

“People should be required to have a vaccine before entering Tasmania,” Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania CEO Luke Martin told ABC Northern Tasmania. 

“Other states are going that way, we’ve seen Europe go that way.”

The head of the tourism body said he would like to see all tourists from every state have both jabs before entering Tasmania, not just those coming from hotspots, but did not say when the rule should come into effect.

“Tassie should lead and show everyone certainty and confidence,” Mr Martin said. 

“If we’re going to open up our borders, we want to protect the community and our own industry and part of that should be an expectation that if you get the Tas-E-Travel pass, the no-restriction travel, then you should have been expected to have had your two shots.”

Mr Martin said hard lockdowns and border restrictions were not sustainable for Tasmanian businesses in the long term.

“We’re watching Victoria by the minute, if they’re OK, we’re OK,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced last month when 70 per cent of eligible Australians were fully vaccinated, lockdowns would be more selective and vaccinated people would be subject to fewer restrictions.

Cradle mountain under light snow at sunrise with Dove Lake showing it reflected in the foreground.

Tasmania’s tourism industry has been heavily impacted by COVID-19 and ongoing border closures.(

Supplied: Jai Moyle

)

Vaccinations ‘the solution’ for tourism businesses

Rob Pennicott from Pennicott Wilderness Journeys says getting as many people as possible vaccinated was key to the industry’s future. 

“I think it’s the solution,” he said.

“To have 80 or 90 per cent of people vaccinated is the best thing we can look forward to … hopefully then we’d get a really good interstate market.”

Mr Pennicott said he had been encouraging his staff at the cruise tour company to get the jab. 

A man smiles.

Rob Pennicott says by Christmas nearly all his staff will be vaccinated.(

ABC News: Jessica Moran

)

“We have a bit over half our staff vaccinated,” he said.

“I think in time we’ll have nearly everyone vaccinated by Christmas.”

Mr Pennicott said when COVID first hit last year and shut down the state, the situation was dire. 

“We just didn’t see it coming, we had no nest egg,” he said. 

Since then, Mr Pennicott said his business had seen fluctuations, depending on which state borders were open. 

“The last five weeks it has died, we’re down 90 per cent, refunded 90 per cent of the money and 90 per cent cancellations … we went backwards last month quite a lot,” he said. 

A woman poses in front of a boat at Hobart's waterfront.

Diana Johansson, a former health worker, is all for the proposal.(

ABC News: Fiona Blackwood

)

Veronica Dotfore from Adelaide said only allowing vaccinated tourists into Tasmania was a good idea.

“If there are enough vaccines, yes … I think that is a safe thing to do,” she said.

Her travelling companion, Diane Johansson, agreed with a ‘no vaccine, no entry’ requirement.

Two women smile for a photo at the Hobart waterfront.

Belinda Montie (right) with Rachel Carson, who said “everyone’s just trying to get back to normal life”.(

ABC News: Fiona Blackwood

)

Belinda Montie and Rachel Carson from Perth were also on board with the idea.

“We are both fully vaccinated, we’re totally for that,” Ms Montie said.

“I am Qantas crew, it’s just been mandated that we need to be fully vaccinated so I am all for everyone getting vaccinated and us opening up and returning to some sort of normality.

“I don’t think it’s discrimination, everyone’s just trying to get back to as much normal life as possible,” Ms Carson said.

Minister non-committal on proposal

Tasmania’s hospitality and events minister, Sarah Courtney, said the government would not rule out making vaccinations mandatory for visitors.

“I’m not going to rule anything in or out. The entire time through COVID we have done what’s in the best interests for Tasmania and will continue to do that,” she said.

Tasmania is part of a working group looking at how restrictions can be eased as more people get vaccinated.

Ms Courtney said while she could not pre-empt what would come out of the working group, all options were on the table.

“Being part of the working group that’s going to inform this national discussion is really important,” she said.

“We recognise the importance, as we come out of COVID, to be able to have a national response, however, ultimately our highest priority are the outcomes for Tasmania.”

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‘If you get a vaccine, you can come in’: Calls to open Tasmania’s borders to vaccinated travellers only
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