Reducing visa red tape 'would benefit' Australian economy

22 August, 2013

Changes to visa access proposed by the federal Coalition will have dramatic economic benefits across the country, according to the Accommodation Association of Australia.

The Association's chief executive officer, Richard Munro, said the Coalition's pledge to cut red tape for Chinese tourists is welcome news for the accommodation industry.

"The association has been pursuing a solution to this issue for some time," Munro said.

"Australia is facing stiff competition from other destinations for visitors from China with high levels of discretionary spending which is why our current visa restrictions are one of the biggest concerns for Chinese travel companies.

"In particular, free independent travellers from China are required to complete visa documents up to 38 pages long - even for a short-stay holiday.

"In addition, tourists over 75 years old are required to undergo a medical examination, seek individual approval from Canberra and pay additional fees."

The Coalition's proposed scheme would see visas lodged electronically, drastically cutting the time and effort currently required for Chinese tourists who wish to visit Australia.

The extension of multiple entry visas would also be introduced.

"Currently, Australia welcomes more than 685,000 Chinese visitors a year (2012/13) and such changes would enhance the chances of pushing this figure to 1 million by 2020," Munro said.

"Whichever of the major parties is successful at the election should embrace change in this important policy area."