Australia's ban on cruise ships will end April 17, government officials announced Tuesday, winding down a rolling two-year ban on international cruise ships sailing from the country.
The decision was made based on medical advice, according to the Australian government, which said the country has been effective in preventing and controlling the entry, emergence and spread of Covid-19 in Australian territory.
The resumption of cruising will give a boost to the tourism economy, which welcomed more than 600,000 cruise ship passengers in 2019, according to Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews.
"I can't wait to see our cruise terminals once again filled with arriving international passengers, getting this important industry ship-shape and back out on the water once more," she said.
CLIA Australia, which had worked with the government to negotiate a reopening for cruise ships, was pleased with the news and now shifts its focus to working with states that will establish specific requirements for reopening their ports.
"This is the best news we've had in two years, and it's especially welcome for the thousands of Australians whose livelihoods depend on cruising," said CLIA managing director Joel Katz in a video message. "We are now confident we will see larger cruise ships returning down under in the not-too-distant future," he said, adding he hopes smaller ships will return even sooner.
Under the conditions set by Australia's government, cruise ship passengers will be required to be double vaccinated.
Australia announced a return-to-tourism plan in February, reopening its airports to vaccinated international travelers.
But Australia left cruises out of the mix and extended the ban to April over concerns about the omicron variant and a wave of Covid-19 cases. Those delays frustrated the cruise industry, which was eager to resume operations.