Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) says that the Government’s proactive actions to liberalise visas for tourists was having a profound impact on inbound travel to Australia, particularly from Asia.
TAA also praised the Government for beginning the process of liberalisation of temporary visas for skilled workers to fuel Australia’s largest ever hotel expansion.
TAA CEO, Carol Giuseppi, said that the Federal Government had shown a high level of understanding for the need to drive demand for Australia’s tourism industry by liberalising visas from Indonesia and the establishment of a new Australian Visa Application Centre (AVAC) in Chengdu, to complement existing centres in Beijing and Shanghai.
“Business tourism will particularly benefit from the issuing of three year multi-entry visas for Indonesian and Chinese visitors, as well as enhancement of the online visa application process for Chinese and Indian visitors,” she said.
“The latest ABS and IVS figures have shown substantial increases in inbound visitors from China and India, but the Indonesian market has grown far more slowly, despite being our closest Asian neighbour.
“The improvement in diplomatic relations and the liberalisation of visas sends a direct and profound message to the Indonesian market and we can look forward to significant growth in future years.
“The China inbound boom is spectacular, but cannot be taken for granted, so the major investment made in visa liberalisation is important. In the most recent statistics, China visitation is up 22% to 896,000, and expenditure grew 43% to $7.7 billion, but Australia faces serious competition for the Chinese market.
“A key advantage Australia will have is a major upgrade of its hotel stock, with over 70 new hotels scheduled to open over the next five years. However, with a forecast shortage of over 60,000 skilled jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector, we will need to attract temporary skilled migration to make up the shortfall and ensure our hotels provide the highest level of service.
“Ministers Dutton and Colbeck have already signalled their intentions with more flexible temporary visa arrangements for workers in northern Australia, and we will need to extend that process to the rest of Australia, as the majority of the new hotels are in cities and operators are already reporting considerable shortages in skilled staff.
“The Government’s policies have recognised the importance of tourism as a tier-one industry, and with an impressive collection of new hotels in the pipeline, supported by major tourism infrastructure projects, the industry is in an outstanding position to contribute significantly to the economy’s growth in the lead-up to 2020,” she said.