Australian tourism experts have claimed the government should ease tourist visa requirements to support the industry.
20 January 2012
Tourism industry claims Australian visa requirements should follow America's lead
According to the country's peak tourism export group, Australian immigration policies should be inspired by US President Barack Obama's recent speech in which he declared "America is open for business" and announced plans to relax restrictions on tourist visas for even more countries.
In an attempt to expand the tourism industry and give America's economy a much needed boost, President Obama announced his intention to make it easier for tourists from countries such as Brazil, China and India to obtain an American tourist visa.
While the Australian economy may not be in the same dire straits as America's, the tourism industry is in similar need of help and the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) says the Australian government should consider similar actions as the US.
Senior members of Australia's tourism industry have claimed in recent weeks that the Australian government does not consider their industry as important as the faltering automotive industry, despite employing more people and called for governmental help similar to that which the automotive industry is expected to receive.
Now, ATEC boss Felicia Mariani says that the American president's announcement recognises the importance of tourism to the economy and Australia needs to do the same by allowing the Australian immigration department to make it easier for tourists to visit the country.
A recent study revealed that Chinese tourists spend almost AU$6,000 (£4,000) per person on an average trip, a sum which, according to several experts, more than justifiies making it easier for Chinese tourists to obtain an Australian visa.
"[President Obama] is mandating to his government to get their act together and get these speed humps out of the road" said Ms Mariani.
"It's time for Australia to stop talking about how important tourism is to the economy and start taking action in the key areas that will remove the barriers to our performance and success."
Asian tourists, particularly Chinese tourists, have propped up the Australian tourism industry in the last 12 months yet, with new wealthy Chinese tourists now having the option of travelling to America instead; Ms Marini is concerned that this could erode China's interest in Australia.
"We need the Australian government holistically committed to pulling the lever that will drive change for the tourism industry" she concluded.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy London.