09 June 2008

Australian visa applications a sign of event's success

The number of Australian visa applications may be an indicator that the upcoming World Youth Day may not be as successful as the organisers had hoped. The day's planners said they are confident the number of international visitors to the event will reach targets, but Australian visas issued for the event show they are 73,000 people short.

World Youth Day is being organised by the Catholic Church and the New South Wales government, who said they expect 125,000 people to attend. The Australian Immigration Department said it has already processed 39,000 special pilgrim visas and has a further 13,000 waiting approval. However, this does not account for any online applications or visitors from nearby New Zealand.

Jim Hanna, the World Youth Day spokesman said: "We're quite comfortable with the number of visas that have been issued ... because we know that the other pilgrims are coming from countries with streamlined arrangements and they can pick up a visa as they leave their country." The Department of Immigration warned earlier this month that a deadline was in place to register for the visas.

An ETA visa is required for all short-term visitors travelling to Australia. Visa Bureau’s automated application process means that in most cases, they can be granted in seconds.

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