PM Kevin Rudd’s ‘fly in, fly out’ approach to tourism might work for the nightly news but only the Coalition has a sustainable, workable plan for attracting Chinese tourists, says Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch.
Mr Entsch has backed comments made by Shadow Tourism Minister Bob Baldwin on 4CA talkback this week when Mr Baldwin identified Cairns as being in a unique position to capitalise on Australia’s growing friendship and ties with China.
“On one hand, we have Rudd jetting into Cairns for a couple of hours claiming he has single-handedly brought China Southern back to Cairns, yet airline and tourism officials were caught by surprise and there are no details or substance about the frequency of the flights or dates they would operate,” Mr Entsch said.
“Meanwhile, Bob Baldwin has done the heavy lifting behind the scenes and found real solutions to attract, and retain, this potentially lucrative market.”
Australia welcomed nearly 700,000 Chinese tourists in the last 12 months, with the aim of 1 million Chinese tourists a year by 2020. The Far North is on track to reach its goal of 200,000 Chinese visitors a year by 2015.
Mr Baldwin spoke at the China National Tourism Administration Dinner in Sydney on Monday (19 AUG) and identified the need for more welcoming visa arrangements as the number one issue for government.
Addressing a number of high-ranking Chinese tourism representatives and diplomats, Mr Baldwin outlined key changes to visa arrangements that could include:
– Electronic lodgement of visas – Australia already allows electronic visas for visitors from many nations, which has resulted in a more streamlined and efficient process.
– The issuing of multiple entry visas to encourage greater repeat visits – while shopping tours from China have become a fixture, they tend to be low value. Multi-entry visas would encourage more Chinese independent travellers with higher spend to visit our shores.
– Improvements to current visa processing times – along with trialling a premium processing time, such as a 24-hour turnaround on a visa application for an additional fee.
“These have been identified as key impediments for Chinese tourists travelling to Australia and if we want to maximise our opportunities, they need to be addressed,” Mr Entsch said.
“Bob’s been working on this for a long time, he’s identified the issues through extensive talks with industry and he’s come up with solutions that a Coalition Government could implement fairly quickly.
“At last we’re getting something of value to help our tourism industry in what is a stark contrast to Kevin Rudd’s grandiose claims which lack substance.”