In a move to help its tourism industry bounce back, Australia is thinking about making its 10-year visa program available to tourists from ASEAN countries and Timor Leste. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set to share details about this and other visa changes at a summit in Melbourne this Tuesday. The announcement aims to attract more visitors and business people to Australia by making it easier for them to visit.

Australia to Roll Out 10-Year Visa for ASEAN Tourists in Recovery Bid
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Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia

Australia Plans to Expand 10-Year Visa to Improve Tourism

Australia's government is looking to extend the reach of its frequent traveler visa, which currently lets business travelers stay for up to three months per visit for a decade. This program was initially offered to Chinese tourists to encourage more visits from China, which has a huge number of people. But with Chinese tourists now preferring to visit countries like Thailand and Malaysia that don't require visas, Australia hopes this expansion will turn things around.

According to VNExpress International, the plan also includes making business visas last longer, going from three to five years. These efforts are part of Australia's strategy to bring in more visitors from Southeast Asia, a region that has become increasingly popular with tourists from around the world.

By opening up its 10-year visa scheme to more countries and extending business visa validity, Australia is working to become a more attractive destination for tourists and business visitors alike. This policy shift comes at a time when the country is looking to recover from the impacts of the global downturn in travel.

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Sees Slow Return of Chinese Tourists

Australia is facing a slower recovery in Chinese tourism than expected. Mandy Ho from Global Ballooning in Melbourne notes that although Chinese tourists are returning for the Lunar New Year, their numbers are still half of what they were before the pandemic. This decrease is impacting the company significantly since Chinese visitors make up about 50% of its clientele.

Tourism Australia reports that only 102,000 Chinese tourists visited Australia in September 2023, a sharp drop from 688,000 in the same month four years earlier. As per The Guardian, experts believe the economic downturn in China, visa-free travel to Southeast Asian countries, and a preference for shorter flights are reasons for this trend. However, there's a 30% increase in Chinese tourism to Southeast Asia, showing a shift in travel preferences.

Despite this, Australia's tourism industry remains hopeful. Efforts to diversify the market have led to an increase in visitors from other countries, and there are signs of improvement, with more Chinese tourists being reported in recent weeks. The Australian government's reintroduction of group visas for Chinese travelers is expected to further boost numbers.

Tourism Australia is optimistic about a full recovery, aiming for a return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, despite predictions suggesting a longer timeline. With Australia's natural attractions and the easing of geopolitical tensions, the industry believes Chinese tourists will eventually make a strong comeback.

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