09 June 2009

Australian visa application process sped up for GCC nationals

The Australian visa application process for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals has been sped up by the Australian government, according to Al Bawaba News.

The Australian visa application approval time for an Australian travel visa will now be as little as two days for GCC residents.  Previously, an Australian visa application could take up to two weeks for approval for GCC nationals, so the faster processing times will come as a relief and no doubt incentive for short-term travel to Australia.

The Australian travel visa available to GCC nationals allows them to enter Australia for up to three months for tourism or visiting purposes, or short-term non-work purposes such as studying for less than three months.  The Australian travel visa is an electronic attachment to one's passport, meaning no labels or paper visa needs to be attached to the foreign national's passport.

Distribution development manager of Tourism Australia Andrew Oldfield said that Australian tourism is undoubtedly going to benefit from improving the Australian visa application process in GCC because of their spontaneous approach to tourism.

"We are thrilled that the government has implemented steps to shorten visa processing times," he said.

"The Middle Eastern consumer is typically an impulse traveller, with bookings made an average of two weeks prior to travel. Having a two-day visa processing time should help attract more travellers to Australia this year," he said.   

According to the report, 63,000 Gulf residents visited Australia during 2008, which is a 21 per cent increase on the year before. 

Tourism operators are also expecting a further increase in the number of GCC nationals applying for an Australian travel visa this year because of increased flights connecting Australia and the Gulf.

"Emirates airline alone operates 63 flights per week to Australia, which it will increase to 70 in winter. Etihad Airways flies 21 times a week while Qatar Airways will start operation in winter – so we soon expect over 100 flights a week will link several GCC cities with Australian ones," said Oldfield.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their Australian visa application.

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