Chinese visa reform a “game-changer” for tourism

Chinese visa reform a “game-changer” for tourism

Chinese visitors are now able to apply online for three-year multiple entry visas to Australia, a boon for tourism according to officials.

Industry members have applauded an extension of the multiple-visa online process as a positive step forward in Australia’s visa reform process.

The Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) welcomed Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb’s announcement last week saying with more than 100 million Chinese nationals travelling internationally last year, the move would allow for Australia to grow its market share.

“Industry has been advocating to government to make visas for Chinese visitors simpler to apply for, faster to receive and more affordable. Visa reform is a real game-changer for Australia’s tourism industry and has the potential to help drive economic growth and jobs here in Australia,” TTF chief executive, Margy Osmond said.

“Combined with the previously-announced move to a permanent online application system for Chinese visitors by the end of 2015, this will help to drive repeat visitation from what are now the highest-spending category of visitors coming to Australia.”

“With competitor destinations like the United States offering 10-year multiple-entry visas Australia must continue reforming our visa regime to stay ahead. Australian visitor visas for Chinese still cost a minimum of $130, making them almost seven times more expensive than visas for visitors from Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and the US.”

Chinese visitors eligible to apply for the electronic travel authority (ETA) visas can apply online for only A$20 and receive an immediate response.

“Australia must continue to eliminate barriers to visitation from our key markets so we can capture the enormous growth potential of the visitor economy,” Osmond said.

Meanwhile, ATEC managing director, Peter Shelley also commented saying the visa reforms will “certainly strengthen our position in the international tourism market and help Australian tourism compete in the face of streamlined visa processes for other destinations”.

Shelley said extending the length of visa validity from 12 to 36 months and providing multiple entry will also encourage more Chinese visitors to holiday in Australia.

“China is our largest destination by both volume and yield and is expected to grow in value to upwards of $7 billion annually by 2020, so policy changes such as this are extremely valuable to our tourism economy and the Australian economy generally,” he said.

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