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Australian Government urged to extend e-visas to high spending Asian travellers following disappointing year for Travel & Tourism

March 19, 2014 Corporate No Comments Email Email

Australia’s visa policies are inhibiting its Travel & Tourism potential and seeing it lose out on high-spending Asian visitors. That is according to David Scowsill, President and CEO of The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) as the organisation unveils its 2014 Annual Economic Impact Report for Australia today.

The report shows that the economic contribution of Australia’s Travel & Tourism grew by just 1.7% in 2013.

David Scowsill is urging Australia to take decisive action to ensure the sector is sustained in the long term; “The Australian Government can’t afford to rest on its laurels and needs to take decisive action to grow Travel & Tourism’s economic slice. There is so much competition to receive visitors from fast- growing economies in Asia like China and India. But Australia’s current visa policies mean it is missing out on these lucrative markets to competitors with more forward-thinking policies. The ASEAN community are working on co-operating together on a single visa in the near future. Even now, ASEAN countries are actively introducing changes like visa-on-arrival in Malaysia for Indians, the Thai-Cambodian Single Visaextended stays in Thailand for citizens of G7 and visa exemption for medical tourists in Thailand. Australia is in danger of falling behind and missing out on visitors, tourism receipts and jobs.”

In 2014, WTTC predicts that Travel & Tourism in Australia will grow by 2.7%.

Mr Scowsill says Australia needs to do so much more to retain its competitive position; “Australia has to make it so much easier for high spending middle class Asian travellers to visit or they will go elsewhere. E-visas need to be brought in, application forms need to be in more languages and there needs to be more collaboration on multiple year, multiple entry and joint and shared visas. All of these measures are simple to make but will bring big rewards to the economy.”

He continues; “To ensure the Industry is sustained in the long run, it is vital that a second airport in Sydney is approved and building work is started. Long term, the Passenger Movement Charge, which is inhibiting demand, must be scrapped.  Australia has incredible assets and has the potential to continue to be a fantastic Travel & Tourism performer. But, if it doesn’t significantly change its policies, it will find itself playing a bit part, rather than the leading role it should be, on the worldwide Travel & Tourism stage”.

The WTTC research also highlights the size of Travel & Tourism around the world:

  • In 2013, Travel & Tourism contributed US$7 trillion to the global economy and is expected to grow by 4.2% in 2014. The total global contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, was  266 million jobs (8.9% of total employment) – one in 11 of all jobs on the planet
  • In 2014, the industry globally is expected to grow by 4.3% 

Mr Scowsill says 2013 proved another successful year for the Industry; “Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the world economy grew for the fourth consecutive year in 2013, helped especially by strong demand from international travellers. Visitor exports, the measure of money spent by these international tourists, rose by 3.9% at a global level year on year, to US$1.3 trillion, and by over 10% within South East Asia.  It is clear that the growth in Travel & Tourism demand from emerging markets continues with pace, as the burgeoning middle-classes, especially from Asia and Latin America, are willing and more able than ever to travel both within and beyond their borders”.

However, Mr Scowsill reminds Governments that they need to take action; “Travel & Tourism forecasts over the next ten years also look extremely favourable, with predicted growth rates of over 4% annually that continue to be higher than growth rates in other industries.  Capitalising on the opportunities for this Travel & Tourism growth will, of course, require destinations and regional authorities, particularly those in emerging markets, to create favourable business climates for investment in the infrastructure and human resource support necessary to facilitate a successful and sustainable tourism industry.  At the national level, governments can also do much to implement more open visa regimes and to employ intelligent rather than punitive taxation policies. If the right steps are taken, Travel & Tourism can be a true force for good”.

WTTC is providing footage (rights-free worldwide) that can be used in support of news reports on the economic impact of Travel & Tourism and related topics for anyone wishing to make video reports for any broadcast medium including TV and the internet. It is accessible through the WTTC website at www.wttc.org/news-media/videos

The 2014 Economic Impact reports for 184 countries and 24 geographic and economic regions of the world is now available on our website as www.wttc.org/research

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