Joint media release - The Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection with Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck MP, Minister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment
Travel to Australia from one of China’s fastest growth regions will be easier with the establishment of a new Australian Visa Application Centre (AVAC).
The new visa centre in Chengdu will serve the vast populations of Sichuan Province, the huge city of Chongqing and the Western China region generally.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and the Minister for Tourism and International Education, Richard Colbeck said the visa centre will provide more convenient access to Australian immigration services and enhance tourism growth from China.
“We saw a record number of visitor visa applications from China in the last financial year and it is important we continue to support this growing market and remain competitive in facilitating Chinese visitors to Australia.
“Visa grants to Chinese tourists have doubled in the last five years and we have significantly reduced processing times – the median processing time for tourist visas is three days and for business visas just one day,” Mr Dutton said.
Senator Richard Colbeck supported the opening of the new Centre saying that the Chinese tourism market supports the Australian economy by bringing in valuable tourism dollars.
“The tourism industry remains one of the largest and strongest industries in Australia and tourism from China is booming; visitors are up 22 per cent to 896,000, nights up 25 per cent to 39.3 million and spending up a huge 43 per cent to $7.7 billion.
“Enhancing these services to the Chinese market will help ensure visitors continue to find Australia easy to access and attractive as a tourist destination,” Mr Colbeck said.
The new Centre complements the AVACs already in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, to continue to support Australia’s largest source of tourist visa applications.
Mr Dutton said the Chengdu AVAC is just one of many steps being undertaken to enhance visa services in China.
“The recent signing of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) will see significant growth in the economic relationship between our countries and facilitating the movement of people is vital to the opportunities ChAFTA opens up,” he said.
“We have numerous initiatives to do that in China including the continuing roll out of online visa lodgment systems, a ten-year visitor visa for eligible Chinese applications, and a 48 hour fast track service.
“In September we also commenced a Work and Holiday visa for up to 5,000 young Chinese people annually – the first 1,500 places were taken within minutes of becoming available.