Aussies applaud 10-year visas for Chinese visitors

THE Australian tourism industry has welcomed the federal government’s decision to pilot 10-year, multiple-entry visas for Chinese nationals as part of a landmark free trade agreement between China and Australia signed last week.

Speaking at a media conference at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Melbourne today, Tourism Australia’s managing director John O’Sullivan said the announcement was “overwhelming positive”, particularly as 10-year visas for Chinese residents had become the “new norm” in other countries.

“We’ve seen in other markets, the US for example, there was a 41 per cent increase in applications for visas, so I think it is a positive story,” he said. “These visas give opportunities for repeat visitation, increased dispersal across Australia and hopefully increased visitor numbers and spend.”

In 2014, there were close to 840,000 Chinese visitors to Australia who were the nation’s biggest international spenders, contributing more than A$5.7 billion (US$4.4 billion) to the economy.

Chief executive of Tourism Victoria, Leigh Harry, echoed O’Sullivan’s sentiments and said: “Two things we’re very focused on is building on the education links between China and Australia, which then builds into the visiting friends and relatives market, so these changes are critical.”

Director of communications at AccorHotels Pacific, Ginni Post, said the hotel group was “extremely happy” with the decision.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction and a win for tourism and a win for hotels,” she said. “China is high on our radar. We’re doing a lot with China Ready and Accredited to train our employees on etiquette, cultural sensitivities and high service expectations of Chinese guests.”

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