Australia missing out on Chinese tourists

October 21st, 2014 | | news

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 10.46.26 amRival destinations such as Canada and the US are beating Australia in the battle to attract Chinese tourists – and much of the problem lies with the red tape and expense entailed in Australian visa requirements, according to the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).

TTF points out that while new figures show international visitor numbers to Australia continue to grow, with China leading the charge, the stats also highlight the massive opportunity that Australia is missing.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics latest Overseas Arrivals and Departures figures show the number of international visitors rose 2.9 per cent in August – up 8.2 per cent for the year.

“The growth in overseas arrivals to Australia shows that we have plenty to offer international visitors, with an additional 509,000 arriving here over the past 12 months,” said TTF chief executive, Margy Osmond.

“China is making a significant contribution to that, with arrivals up 21% for the month and 12.2% over the year. Yet, while the growth from China is solid, it also shows that Australia is falling behind other comparable countries which are competing for Chinese visitors.

“This is a clear indication that Australia needs reform to make it easier for Chinese visitors to come here. Our national and state tourism organisations already make significant investments in marketing to China, however our visa regime does not support this investment and means potential visitors are choosing other destinations over Australia.

“Independent travellers from China wanting an Australian visa must pay AUD$130, provide considerable evidence, complete a 15-page paper-based application in English, and wait up to 15 days for processing.

“By contrast, a potential visitor from the US, the UK or even Hong Kong can simply fill in a quick online form and receive an electronic visa for AUD$20.

“Reducing the cost and complexity of our visa system will improve Australia’s competitiveness by removing a key barrier to travel.

“These reforms have been identified as a ‘game changer’ that can maximise the potential of the visitor economy as an economic driver for Australia and help Australian tourism achieve its Tourism 2020 goal of doubling overnight expenditure to AUD 140 billion a year,” concluded Osmond.

According to Tourism Research Australia’s latest IVS statistics [June 2014], China continues to lead growth in visitation out of Asia, with visitor numbers up 11% to a new high of 708,000.


Written by Kris Madden