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Cruise bookings still in demand as overseas travel to and from Australia falls

5 min read
22 Jul 2020
Woman wheels a suitcase towards a waiting cruise ship

Cruises may have received a bad rap recently, but it appears that’s not stopping a lot of people from planning their next onboard adventure.

Carnival Corporation & plc (parent company of cruise lines including Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises) announced that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, booking demand is holding strong.[1]

In a recent business update, Carnival Corporation revealed that in the first three weeks of June 2020, almost 60% of cruise bookings for 2021 were new bookings. The remaining reservations were re-bookings from customers whose 2020 cruises were cancelled.

 This spells good news for the cruise industry, which in 2018-19 contributed $5.2 billion to the Australian economy and brought nearly four million visitors to our shores.[2]

However, overall, the travel industry is still floundering.

In what’s likely to be a surprise to no one, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data revealed that overseas travel to and from Australia had fallen significantly in June 2020 compared to the same time in 2019.

How has overseas travel to and from Australia changed?

For a start, the amount of overseas arrivals decreased by 98.4%, meaning only 25,770 overseas visitors arrived in Australia in June 2020, compared to 1,563,090 to June 2019.[3]

However, despite the significant drop year-on-year, the number of overseas arrivals in June 2020 actually increased by more than 6,000 on the number of arrivals in May.

The majority of those arrivals in June were Australian residents returning home, making up 14,100 of those trips into the country. New Zealand citizens made up the second-largest group of people arriving in Australia, accounting for 2,700 of arrivals.

Overseas travel from Australia has also changed dramatically since this time last year due to international travel restrictions.

In June 2020, out of the 40,080 departures from Australia, 7,300 were Australian citizens. Compared to the 1,804,970 departures in June 2019, this was a decrease of 97.7%.

Aside from Australians, Chinese and New Zealand citizens respectively made up the second and third-largest groups of departures from Australia in June 2020.

Why are people still arriving in and departing from Australia?

International flights have become notoriously difficult to find as other countries around the world close transit hubs.[4] This could explain why people are continuing to trickle into the country a few months on from the border closures.

Currently, Australia’s borders are only open to:

  • Australian citizens and permanent residents;
  • immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents; and
  • New Zealand citizens who usually reside in Australia.[5]

Otherwise, any traveller wishing to enter Australia must have a compassionate or compelling reason to do so and must obtain an exemption from the Australian Border Force Commissioner.

Exemption cases could include foreign nationals coming to Australia to assist in the COVID-19 response or critical medical services. There are further conditions and requirements for entry into Australia, which you can find on the Home Affairs website.

However, we could soon see the number of overseas arrivals into Australia drop even further than it already has.

The National Cabinet announced that from Monday 13 July, the number of international passengers allowed into the country would be capped in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane.[6]

As for people leaving the country, there are a couple of different rules in place.

Those who are in Australia on a temporary visa can leave Australia whenever they choose, as they don’t require an exemption to do so. However, this is provided that their home country doesn’t have restrictions in place that prevent them from returning.

Australian citizens and permanent residents, however, aren’t allowed to leave Australia at all unless they have an exemption.[7] These exemptions can include:

  • travel to receive urgent medical care that isn’t already available in Australia;
  • travel for unavoidable personal business or compassionate or humanitarian reasons;
  • travel as part of the COVID-19 response (e.g. to provide aid); and
  • essential travel for important businesses and industries (e.g. trade).

You can apply for one of these travel exemptions, as well as view further terms and conditions, through the Home Affairs website.

Have questions about how COVID-19 can impact your overseas travel?

You can find the answers to your questions on our COVID-19 Travel Insurance FAQ hub. We’ll take you through things like your travel insurance coverage for COVID-19, whether you’re entitled to a refund and more, as well as general information about travelling during these times.

Also, if you’re one of those who’ve booked a cruise for next year, read more about the importance of having cover for your cruise.

[1] Carnival Corporation & plc – Carnival Corporation & plc Provides A Business Update And Additional Financial Information For The Second Quarter. Press release. Published 10 July 2020. Accessed 14 July 2020.
[2] Cruise Lines International Association (Australasia) – Cruise sector boosts economic impact to $5.2 billion. Press release. Published October 2019. Accessed July 2020.
[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics – 3401.0.55.004 – Overseas Travel Statistics, Provisional, June 2020. Published 14 July 2020. Accessed 14 July 2020.
[4] Smartraveller – COVID-19 – Helping Australians to return home. Last updated 10 June 2020. Accessed 15 July 2020.
[5] Australian Government: Department of Home Affairs – Travel restrictions. Last updated 10 July 2020. Accessed 15 July 2020.
[6] Prime Minister of Australia – National Cabinet: Media Statement. Published 10 July 2020. Accessed 15 July 2020.
[7] Australian Government: Department of Home Affairs – Leaving Australia. Last updated 13 July 2020. Accessed 15 July 2020.

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avatar of author: Eliza Buglar

Written by Eliza Buglar

Because she likes reading, as well as watching endless amounts of films, Eliza majored in Creative Writing and Film and Television at QUT. She also likes music, but didn’t study that. When she’s not using her writing major at Compare the Market, you can catch her utilising that film major at every Marvel and Star Wars film that comes into cinema.

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