AACB says Australia is losing out to Asian rivals in part because of high visa costs
The Department is looking to reduce the current 99 visas to approximately 10, making it easier to understand, to navigate, and more responsive to the country’s economic, social and security interests.
In its submission, the AACB emphasised the high yield of business visitors, especially delegates coming to Australia for business events or incentive experiences, which can be up to 9 per cent higher than leisure visitors.
“Australia is already losing major corporate incentives and association conventions due to its costly and complex visa system,” said new AACB president Karen Bolinger.
“The price-sensitive incentive travel market is even worse affected, with Australia often written off as a destination, due to our visa costs. The trend towards governments offsetting the cost of staging a major convention is growing, particularly in Asia, where governments mitigate the financial risk associated with major conventions.
“Many of our Asian rivals have made it easier on business travellers to attend conventions and business events. Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong, for example, have visa-free entry requirements for visitors from almost all Asian, European and North American countries. Even New Zealand’s visa system allows for greater flexibility whereby fees can be waived or offset for business event delegations.
“If we are to maximise the Asian Century, this must include business travellers. Australia needs a visa system that is easier to understand, better suited to the rapidly growing number of visitors, and flexible enough for Australia to remain a competitive destination for temporary visitors and the longer-term entrants Australia needs.”
Andrew Hiebl, CEO of the AACB, says that the revised visa system needs to have a greater focus on high-growth countries with low-risk and high-yield travellers.
“As well as being higher yielding visitors, business delegates are also lower risk. International convention delegates are far less likely to overstay a visa and have a higher visa grant rate than leisure travelers,” he said.
“The visa reforms we have proposed offer the Australian Government a cost neutral option that would streamline the process for business events delegates and encourage greater attendance from growth markets such as China, India, Thailand and Indonesia.”
The AACB’s visa simplification submission can be viewed on the AACB website.