Concerned that Australia is missing out on spontaneous visitors, the tourism industry is calling on the Federal Government to consider introducing a ‘visa for life’ for some foreign travellers.
The measures are among items on the Australian Tourism Export Council’s (ATEC) pre-budget submission to Treasury, which also includes a recommendation for ‘passport-free’ entry to Australia by 2030.
According to SBS, the lifelong visa would be offered to regular travellers that have cleared appropriate checks, taking the government’s current multiple entry visa one step further.
“Many of our close Asian neighbours, affluent Asian neighbours in particular, are last minute decision makers,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“They might be sitting in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and saying 'let’s go to Australia for the weekend'. People are starting to think like that.”
Concerned that visa backlogs could hurt Aussie tourism, especially around the lucrative China and India markets, ATEC believes more needs to be done to streamline the visa processing system.
"We don’t want to hear travel wholesalers in say India saying we're not prepared to sell Australia any more because we’re not confident," Mr Shelley remarked.
ATEC says establishing ‘passport-free’ entry to Australia by 2030 should also be a priority for the government.
"Whilst you can have a lovely time on a holiday, if you have a negative departure it often sits in your mind," Shelley said.
Additionally, the council has requested the Government boost Tourism Australia’s budget by $60 million to make it more competitive with other nations as well as bolster training for tourism operators.
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