A move to permanent online visa applications for Chinese and Indian visitors by the end of this year is a win for industry and will be a significant step forward in visa reform, said peak industry body, Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).
Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb announced today that all Chinese and Indian visitors will be able to lodge their visa applications online by the end of this year, as well as a trial of all remaining countries still required to lodge paper applications. This announcement follows strong advocacy from TTF, who last year published Visitor Visa Reform: Reducing Barriers to Travel.
“TTF has been campaigning strongly for the government to bring down one of the most significant red tape barriers for visitation from China and we welcome this announcement,” said TTF Chief Executive Officer Margy Osmond.
“This is a significant step forward from the government in making Australia’s visitor visa system easier, quicker and more affordable.
“Chinese visitors to Australia spend the most of all international visitors to Australia and their visitation is helping to drive economic growth and jobs creation.
“While Australia has experienced strong visitation and expenditure growth from China, other competitor destinations like the United States and Canada have even higher rates of growth. These destinations have highly competitive visa systems, with the US now offering Chinese visitors 10-year multiple entry visas.
“Australia must continue reforming our visa regime to stay ahead. Making visa application forms available for lodgement online will cut down on much of the hassle involved in coming to Australia, but we shouldn’t stop there.
“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.
“Visitors eligible to apply for the electronic travel authority (ETA) visas apply online, pay only $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.”