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Borders are open but visitor bottlenecks remain

Slow visa process hampering tourism sector recovery

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) says while Australia’s international borders are open, the flow of international visitors continues to be hindered by slow visa processing times with some international visitors choosing to travel to competing destinations due to the uncertainty of timely visa approvals. 

The issue of Australia’s visas was raised in talks between Prime Minister Albanese and the Indonesian Government week during his visit where he was accompanied by new Federal Tourism Minister, Senator Don Farrell. 

“We are pleased to see the new Government is having timely and productive talks with one of our emerging visitor markets seeking to find solutions to some of the issues impeding the recovery of Australia’s export tourism industry,” ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley said. 

“Right now, we need to be doing everything in our power to welcome back international visitors by removing impediments which may encourage visitors to choose an alternative travel destination.

“The reality is, the issues raised by the Indonesian Government are reflective of experiences across several of our international markets. 

“Australia has a $45bn tourism export industry has been shut for two years due to our border closure, however slow visa processing is now hindering its recovery’ 

“The delays in visa processing are having a considerable impact on export tourism business and there is an urgent need for action to improve processing times and avoid losing valuable tourist dollars to other competing destinations.” 

A recent survey of the industry conducted by ATEC revealed: 

  • 54 percent of export tourism businesses say visa delays are impacting bookings 
  • 55 percent reported their trade partners in market have reduced or stopped selling Australian holidays due to visa challenges 
  • Impacts are being experienced across all markets but predominantly South East Asia including Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Malaysia 
  • In some instances, visitors are receiving visa approvals as little as one or two days before travel

In other news, with the Indonesian market opening up once again ATEC, together with Tourism Australia, is delivering its latest educational program, Indonesia Host, focused on educating tourism suppliers on positioning their product to cater for the growing Indonesian market. 

“Tourism businesses need strong support from the Government in ensuring all barriers to success are removed and that means providing streamlined and efficient visa processing for our international visitors,” Mr Shelley said. 

In 2019, Indonesia was Australia’s 12th largest inbound market for visitor arrivals, 14th largest market for total visitor spend and 14th largest market for visitor nights.  

The online live webinars include four educational modules: Market & Culture Ready; Product Ready; Service Ready; and Trade Ready. 


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