Interview with Samantha Armytage, Sunrise
Samantha Armytage: While efforts are still being made to control the virus, the Federal Government is finalising its plans for a digital certificate showing you've had a COVID jab, to be available once vaccines are rolled out. Now, you'd be able to show the pandemic passport on your phone via the Medicare app or the myGov website or get a paper copy from Services Australia or the vaccine provider. The certificates could also help allow workplaces to fully reopen and allow tourism operators to welcome international visitors once again. And, Dan Tehan is the Tourism Minister and joins us now from Cairns this morning. Minister, good morning to you. How much of a game changer could this vaccine certificate be for the reopening of our borders?
Dan Tehan: Well, our hope is that it will be a big game changer, because anything that we can do to welcome international tourists back to places like Cairns, where I am this morning, Port Douglas, where I was last night, that rely on international tourism, would just be so wonderful for the hardworking tourism operators here, but also would be great for the nation. So, we're going to do everything we can to make this passport a game changer, so we can get international tourists back.
Armytage: Yeah, ok. You're poolside in Cairns this morning. It looks beautiful but it does look empty. Tourism operators, particularly up in that area, doing it incredibly tough from an international visitor perspective. With the vaccine set to be rolled out, is there any updated timeline on when we will be able to welcome international visitors again?
Tehan: Well, our hope is that by this time next year we'll have international tourists back. Obviously, we're keeping open the option of being able to put bubbles in place. We've got a one-way bubble with New Zealand, we're looking at options with Singapore, potentially with Japan, if they can get the virus under control again. So, that remains a live option – bubbles – but I think everyone's forecast is that everything going well, we would hope to be welcoming international tourists back this time next year.
Armytage: Ok. Have you got any update for us, Minister, on Federal Government support for the tourism industry, for travel agents?
Tehan: So, for travel agents we're rolling out the $128 million program at the moment. I think we've spent about $60 million of that, has been delivered already to travel agents. And, can I say, especially to those smaller travel agents, please make sure that you get in your application for this support, because it's those small mum and dad travel agents that we really want to make sure that they apply, so we can get that support out to them.
Armytage: Ok. Well, Dan Tehan, we will talk to you soon. Thanks for your time this morning.
Tehan: Been a pleasure, and great to be here from Cairns, and come up and visit if you possibly can. It's a wonderful part of the world.
Armytage: Oh, we will. Have a cocktail for me. We'll talk to you soon.
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