CANBERRA, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- The first contingent of international students has arrived in Australia under its travel bubble with Singapore that came into effect on Sunday.
Travelers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 who depart from Singapore can enter Australia without quarantining for the first time since March 2020.
Two flights of international students landed in Sydney and Melbourne on Sunday, the first batch of international students to arrive in Australia since November 2020, according to Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia.
The initial batch will be followed by another 500 students that will arrive in December.
"Universities have worked closely with government and health authorities for more than 18 months on plans to safely welcome back our international friends," Jackson said in a media release on Sunday, adding that around 130,000 international students remain outside Australia.
"We're confident that today's arrivals are just the first of many to return, at scale, for the start of first semester next year."
Australia's lucrative international education industry was crippled by the country's strict border closure in response to the pandemic.
Universities lost 4.9 percent of their revenue, an estimated 1.8 billion Australian dollars (1.3 billion U.S. dollars) in 2020 and cut 17,000 jobs.
On Sunday morning, Australia reported 1,467 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases and six deaths, as the country continues to battle the third wave of infections.
The majority of new cases were in Victoria, the country's second-most populous state with Melbourne as the capital city, where 1,275 cases and four deaths were reported.
As of Saturday, 91.5 percent of Australians aged 16 and over had received one vaccine dose and 85.1 percent were fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health. Enditem