18 August 2008

Australia, Asia ties getting stronger due to migration and tourism numbers

Australia is being pulled away from the traditional ties to Europe to become a central figure in Asian politics, commerce and migration, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, in a time which has been coined "the beginning of the Asian century".

The Australian and Asia-Pacific trade has boomed over the past decade, particularly with the commercial superpower China, which has seen an increase in trade from US$7 billion to US$44 billion, reports the newspaper.  In just the first five months of this year, trade between the two countries increased by 39.4 per cent over the same period last year, and each year Australia’s trade with Asia in general has increased by 12 per cent.

But Australia’s prominence in Asia isn’t only benefiting from a boom in commodities and commercial trade.  Each year, around 2 million people from Asia visit Australia and spend more than any other group to holiday in the country.  Asian visitors comprise more than 40 per cent of the total number of visitors to Australia, and with the Chinese tourism market predicted to grow at unprecedented rates, income from tourism will no doubt follow suit.

Australia is also profiting from an educational boost from Asia.  Last financial year, the Department of Immigration approved 228,592 Australian student visas, most of which were for students from Asia.  This is a 20 per cent increase from the year before, and indicates that the Australian government is looking towards attracting students to the country to raise the level of skills in the workforce. 

The Australian migration program also expanded by 20 per cent; now 190,300 visas can be approved for the year of 2008-09 and 40 per cent (or 76,000) of these will go to Australia’s Asian neighbours.  At the moment, about 10 per cent of the Australian population is Asian, with UK nationals also making up a large part of the non-Australian population. 

UK residents comprise the largest group of foreign workers on a temporary visa in Australia, reaching one quarter of the 110,000 temporary visas available.  The conversion rate of temporary visas to permanent residency is also up by 30 per cent; nearly 25,000 subclass 457 visa holders became permanent residents last year, meaning more UK nationals are permanently migrating to Australia after having tested the Australian lifestyle.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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