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Visa A Barrier To Chinese Visitation

April 16, 2014 Association No Comments Email Email

The process for obtaining a visitor visa to Australia is ‘onerous and in some cases demeaning’ – discouraging visitors from China, our strongest international tourism market.
Returning from Australia Week in China, ATEC Chairman, John King OAM, said Chinese representatives expressed concern about the efficacy of Australia’s visa system for visitors coming from China.

“There was high level and consistent feedback from key Chinese industry partners during trade mission discussions that the amount of documentation required to get a visa is now the major issue restricting greater growth for Australia from this market,” Mr King said.

“The Visa application was clearly identified as a ‘negative’ in the otherwise positive perception of Australia and Chinese visitors are now diverting to other destinations because of the onerous information requirements.

“The problem is not the time taken for the processing by Australian Visa Centres, but in the amount and type of documentation required which includes the need to provide the family registration book and to fill in an 18 page application.”

Every family in China has a single, official family registration book which is usually held by the senior member of the family and can contain details of dozens of family members.  The book is invaluable to the family and closely guarded by the holder.

“Our system requires the visa applicant to provide this registration book as one form of identity and in many cases this is just too hard.

“Australia is beginning to look quite antiquated in its visa application system, particularly in an environment where countries such as the UK have changed their system to be more accommodating of these restrictions.

“There is a clear indication that many of these high yielding Chinese visitors are choosing destinations which have less onerous visa application systems such as Canada, the USA and now the UK.

Mr King said Australia was now in an increasingly disadvantaged position in competing for the Chinese visitor market, which is worth more than $4 billion a year the national economy.

“In order to achieve the full potential the Chinese visitor market offers, we need to ensure access for Free Independent Travellers (FIT) is maximised and this requires an easily accessed and quickly processed visa system.

“ATEC has had positive meetings with the Immigration Minister on this matter in the past and we welcome the recent announcements regarding the introduction of multi entry visas for Chinese business travellers, however the need for action to review and streamline the Visa application itself has now become urgent.”

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