After over a year of considering the lengthy multiple-entry tourist visa for Chinese visitors, the Australian Prime Minister has finally announced that a trial for the 10-year visa will start soon but neither the PM, the DIBP or DFAT have provided any details except that the trial will for the first time allow for tourist visa applications to be lodged in Mandarin.
The trial is expected to boost tourist numbers particularly those of return visitors to Australia. For years now the industry has complained of the inordinate visa demands, such as bank records and other documentation, all of which they say have made travel to Australia less attractive even to those have been here and inclined to return.
The Australian trial lags well behind the US, Canada and Britain which have already moved to permanent 10-year, repeat-entry tourist visas for the Chinese.
The Australian Prime Minister is currently in China with a 1000-strong business delegation looking to strengthen economic ties with a focus on tourism and education.
“China is Australia’s most valuable tourism market. More than a million Chinese visited Australia last year (and) contributed A$8.3 billion to our economy,” Mr Turnbull said at a function in Shanghai’s sprawling Expo Centre.
To encourage further growth, Australia will not only relax its visa rules but will also embark on a major tourism campaign. Mr Turnbull said, next year has been designated the Australia-China Year of Tourism. “Both our governments are working on a program of events in China and Australia throughout 2017 to promote the tourism relationship," Mr Turnbull said.
Government figures released in January showed a million Chinese tourists flocking to Australia over the previous 12 months, up from 100,000 just 15 years ago. Beaten in absolute numbers only by New Zealand, China is the fastest growing group with a total spending of A$7.7 billion (US$5.9 billion) last year.
Australia has launched a A$40 million global tourism campaign to help fill the economic hole left by a commodities downturn, targeting a growing group of Chinese holidaymakers who favour independent itineraries over traditional large group packages.
Tourism is among Australia’s fastest growing sectors, employing 500,000 people. Tourism Research Australia forecasts Chinese spending to double to A$13.7 billion by 2024–25. The government forecasts the industry to rake in A$113 billion by June 2016, with foreign tourists accounting for one third.
Source: Migration Alliance