US plan a "threat" to Australian tourism

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A plan by the US to increase visa processing in some of Australia’s key markets is a “serious threat” to the local tourism industry, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has warned.
The Presidential Policy Directive is likely to increase the appeal of the US as a holiday destination to the possible detriment of Australia, ATEC managing director Felicia Mariani said.
Under the plan, the US wants to increase its visa processing capacity, particularly from China and Brazil, by 40% over the next 12 months.
China is regarded as a pivotal market for the future of Australian tourism.
“For years we have had the benefit of a perception by many international markets that America’s borders were restrictive, if not closed, to many overseas visitors,” Mariani said. “Since the major announcement of the formation of the US Travel Corporation last year, America is in overdrive in regaining lost ground and consolidating their efforts to recover market share.”
The US has seen its market share of spending by international travellers fall from 17% to 11%, a position it wants to reverse.
In drawing up the directive, the US has acknowledged that tourism is a “driving force” in kick starting the economy, Mariani said.
She called for Australia to follow the US lead and “stop talking about how important tourism is and start taking action in the key areas that will remove the barriers to our performance and success”.
“Australian tourism needs the same passion, fire and drive at the highest level of our Government,” she said. “Now is the time for us to take an honest look at our performance and competitiveness and plan for how we will stay in front of the pack. We can’t afford to wait until we have to play catch up, as the US is doing now with this announcement.”  

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