Slow visa processing hampering tourism recovery

visa processing

The tourism industry has warned that a bottleneck in the visa processing system for visitors wanting to come to Australia is hampering the sector’s recovery.

Industry bodies are calling on the Home Affairs Department to ramp up processing times for tourist visas or risk losing out to other countries with faster visa approval times.

Margy Osmond, chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, said visitors will “take their money and trip elsewhere” if visas take a long time to process.

“It is actually damaging our brand not to be able to get those visas out the door as quickly as possible in the most appropriate way,” Osmond told 7.30.

A recent survey of the industry conducted by Australian Tourism Export Council revealed more than half (54%) of export tourism businesses say visa delays are impacting bookings, while 55 per cent report their trade partners in market have reduced or stopped selling Australian holidays due to visa challenges.

The impacts are being experienced across all markets but predominantly South East Asia including Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Malaysia

Australian Tourism Export Council managing director Peter Shelley said he was pleased to see Prime Minister Anthony Albanese accompanied by Federal Tourism Minister Don Farrell on his recent trip to Indonesia.

“We are pleased to see the new Government is having timely and productive talks with one of our emerging visitor markets seeking to find solutions to some of the issues impeding the recovery of Australia’s export tourism industry,” said Shelley.

“Right now, we need to be doing everything in our power to welcome back international visitors by removing impediments which may encourage visitors to choose an alternative travel destination.

“The reality is, the issues raised by the Indonesian Government are reflective of experiences across several of our international markets.

“Australia has a $45 billion tourism export industry has been shut for two years due to our border closure, however slow visa processing is now hindering its recovery.

“The delays in visa processing are having a considerable impact on export tourism business and there is an urgent need for action to improve processing times and avoid losing valuable tourist dollars to other competing destinations.”