Australia to welcome biggest number of foreign visitors since COVID border closures

By Melissa Coade

February 21, 2022

Almost 13,500 foreign university students arrived in Australia last week. (Brian Jackson/Adobe)

International travellers have started to re-enter Australia as of Monday 21 February, with almost 13,500 foreign university students already welcomed last week alone.

According to Universities Australia, this was a 33% increase on the number of arrivals from the previous week, with approximately 80,000 students having now entered Australia to pursue their tertiary ambitions. 

Universities Australia CEO Catriona Jackson said the strong number of returning students was worth celebrating after up to two years of having been locked out and required to either change their study plans or learn remotely.

“We know there are students still to return, and we, as well as their domestic peers, stand ready to welcome them back,” Jackson said. 

“The sector, of course, faces a significant road to recovery and the full picture for 2022 and beyond will take time to form.”

Jackson added that the higher education sector was still recovering from the impact of COVID-19, and the subsequent revenue hits and job losses.

“There is rebuilding ahead and we continue to work with our communities to do that in the national interest.

“In the meantime, however, we are glad to see a return to the vibrant, hard-working campuses that sit at the centre of the communities we serve,” she said. 

Addressing a press conference in Melbourne on Sunday, the prime minister said 56 incoming flights to Australia were expected within the next 24 hours.

“​​That number is only going to grow,” Morrison said.

“The wait is over. There’s some more than 1.2 million people around the world who are visaed up and they can come.”

The PM said he expected that with more tourists, some jobs that had been lost would return and that would stimulate the economy further. He went on to thank sectors who, like universities and the tourism industry, suffered as a result of the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. 

“The tourism industry has really borne the brunt of this COVID pandemic, not just here but all around the world, and particular parts of the country have felt it more than others,” Morrison said.

“That’s why I’m excited to know that we’re going from COVID cautious to COVID confident when it comes to travel.”


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