Easy entry tempting more tourists, study shows

Speedy visas and hassle-free airports are making Australia more appealing to Asian visitors, a new study has found.

Changes to key entry and departure points are revolutionising the travel experience of international tourists according to the Griffith Institute for Tourism research.

And those changes are encouraging tourists from the Asian markets that make up almost half of all international tourist to our shores.

Chinese tourists topped 1.25 million visitors last year, with a massive 52.44 million visitor nights spent in Australia.

The Tourism Accommodation Australia-commissioned report looked at visa costs and processing times for potential tourists from the key markets of China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.

It found government changes had made Australia of the most competitive countries internationally for visa processing times.  

Carol Giuseppi, CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia, said: “Continued improvements in creating a seamless, automated experience for travellers is making a real difference to the travel experience.

“Not to mention initiatives such as the removal of outgoing passenger cards and a global roll-out of online visas.

“Add to this multiple-entry visas, the roll-out of next generation smart gates and trials of biometric processing and you can see how much simpler – and faster – the process is becoming for travellers.

“Other changes, not often mentioned, are having an impact as well.

“For example; improvements to access and maximising airline capacity are playing a role, as well as investment through bi-lateral air agreements and increased airline partnerships.

“The federal government has done a lot of work in this area and should be congratulated.”

On the downside, the report found Australia could do more to remain competitive when it came to reducing visa fee costs.

While we are one of the cheapest nations for actual visa fees, once passenger movement fees and other charges are added, we finish among the top three most expensive nations for Asian travellers when it comes to total visa costs (along with the USA and UK).

So what can be done to improve the experience even further for visitors from one of our most important markets?

Recommendations in the report include bench-marking and reducing visa fees to compensate for the increases in the passenger movement charge, committing to a fixed country-specific processing time, extending online application options to all visitor visa categories and extending visa validity periods.

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