Jun 3, 2016

Labor to grow Australia’s tourism competiveness

A Shorten Labor Government will undertake an audit of Australia’s tourist visa offering for each of our main target markets, and undertake an assessment of how that offering compares to our major competitors.

Australia’s position in the Asia-Pacific presents an unparalleled opportunity to respond to the increasing number of Asian visitors, particularly from China, who want to visit Australia.

However, the tourism industry is increasingly concerned that Australia’s current policy settings around visa charges and the interaction with our border are not conducive to capitalising on our position in the region.

The tourist visa audit will assess the competitiveness of our visa fees, visa processing arrangements and the ease of interaction with the Australian border.

In addition, with a view to the growing Chinese market, Labor will review:

  • The cost of the 10-year multiple entry visa so that it is competitive with that for Chinese citizens visiting the US and the EU.
  • Introducing an online visa application, in both English and Mandarin, which can be submitted online at any time.
  • Reducing the processing time for visas submitted online to within 48 hours.
  • The feasibility of reforming the Tourist Refund Scheme by introducing an online, streamlined claiming process based on the Singapore model.
  • The factors which have an impact on passenger facilitation at International Airports, with Perth International Airport to be looked at as a priority.

“Australia’s share of the Chinese tourist market is declining, while both Canada and the US have seen significantly faster growth in Chinese arrivals,” Mr Marles said.

“The comparatively high cost of our tourist visas suggests a belief that, given the already high cost and long distance involved in travelling to Australia, an extra expense associated with tourist visas won’t matter.  Labor believes this is an attitude that must change.”

“It is precisely because of the high cost of coming to Australia that we believe there is an imperative to ensure that every discretionary cost within government’s control is minimised,” Mr Albanese said.