Multiple-entry tourist visas set to drive repeat visits from China
Chinese travellers will be able to make repeat visits to Australia with ease, with a current online visitor visa pilot extended to offer three-year, multiple entry visas to approved applicants.
Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, who is also the minister responsible for tourism, announced the initiative tonight in Adelaide at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.
Mr Robb said the government was determined to do what it can to help Australia capture more than its share of the rapidly growing Chinese tourist market.
Previously, visitor visas for Chinese travellers were only valid for 12 months. The new visitor visa provision follows the introduction of three-year, multiple entry Chinese business visas in February 2014
“Chinese tourists are increasingly more discerning and looking for an authentic Australian experience. Repeat visitors are an increasingly important market sector as they tend to stay for longer periods and are higher yielding in terms of their spending,” Mr Robb said.
Mr Robb said research also showed that repeat Chinese visitors were more likely to venture to regional areas, which was good for local economies.
“Ongoing visa reform and deregulation was part of a broader effort to ensure our tourism and hospitality sector remains competitive in an increasingly crowded global tourism market,” he said.
Around 100 million Chinese left China for an overseas holiday last year, a figure that is predicted to reach 200 million by 2020.
Nearly 790,000 Chinese travellers visited Australia in the year to September 2014, spending close to $5.4 billion. In the year to September 2014, 47 per cent of arrivals from China were repeat visitors and they accounted for around $3.3 billion or 60 per cent of Chinese expenditure.
This latest initiative follows a series of other measures which include:
- Striking a landmark air services agreement with China that will see capacity triple over the next 18 months from 22,500 seats per week from China last year to 67,000 per week by the end of 2016.
- $43 million for a new Tourism Demand-Driver Infrastructure Programme.
- $2 million to support the staging of Australia Week in China (AWIC) again in 2016.
- Extending streamlined SmartGate traveller processing trials to visitors from Hong Kong and China during 2015.
- $10 million in new funding for the Australia-China Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme.
- Freezing the Passenger Movement Charge for this term of office, a tax on tourism and hospitality that increased 45 per cent under the previous Labor government.
“Tourism and hospitality is one of Australia’s great strengths. It is our largest services export – worth $30 billion in export income – and directly or indirectly employs one million Australians, including large numbers in regional Australia. As a government we are determined to back our strengths,” Mr Robb said.