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Visa red tape hampers Aussie bid for Chinese tourists

October 10, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Rival destinations such as Canada and the US are beating Australia in the battle to attract Chinese tourists – and much of the problem lies with the red tape and expense entailed in Australian visa requirements.

That’s the feeling of  the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF). It points out that while new figures show international visitor numbers to Australia continue to grow, with China leading the charge, the stats also “highlight the massive opportunity that Australia is missing”.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS’s) latest Overseas Arrivals and Departures figures show the number of international visitors rose 2.9% in August to be up 8.2% for the year.

The growth is healthy, TTF chief executive Margy Osmond concedes, but she says it could be even better.

“The growth in overseas arrivals to Australia shows that we have plenty to offer international visitors, with an additional 509,000 arriving here over the past 12 months” she said.

“China is making a significant contribution to that, with arrivals up 21% for the month and 12.2% over the year.

“Yet, while the growth from China is solid, it also shows that Australia is falling behind other comparable countries which are competing for Chinese visitors.

“So far this year, the number of Chinese tourists going to Canada has grown by more than 30% while the US has seen growth of 23%.

“This is a clear indication that Australia needs reform to make it easier for Chinese visitors to come here. Our national and state tourism organisations already make significant investments in marketing to China, however our visa regime does not support this investment and means potential visitors are choosing other destinations over Australia.

“Independent travellers from China wanting an Australian visa must pay AUD 130, provide considerable evidence, complete a 15-page paper-based application in English, and wait up to 15 days for processing.

“By contrast, a potential visitor from the US, the UK or even Hong Kong can simply fill in a quick online form and receive an electronic visa for AUD 20.

“Reducing the cost and complexity of our visa system will improve Australia’s competitiveness by removing a key barrier to travel.

“These reforms have been identified as a ‘game changer’ that can maximise the potential of the visitor economy as an economic driver for Australia and help Australian tourism achieve its Tourism 2020 goal of doubling overnight expenditure to AUD 140 billion a year.”

Edited by : Peter Needham

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