UN World Tourism Organisation secretary-general Taleb Rifai has urged Australia to relax its strict visa requirements for visitors from developing countries, saying it could help Australia boost tourism.
Rifai added that there was no evidence to
show that tough entry conditions for foreign tourists were necessary for
security related reasons. He urged Australia and other developed countries to
ease their tight visitor visa rules.
"There is no evidence to establish
that there are close and very strong links between visas and security issues,"
Rifai said in Melbourne. "It is not reasonable to still see long lines, very
cumbersome, uneasy, complicated, lengthy, overpriced entry formalities all over
the world, particularly facing nationals from countries that are rising and
countries that are providing the base for future incoming tourists.
While Chinese and Indian visitors have provided the greatest annual
growth to Australia's
tourism numbers over the past decade, they still face many hurdles in order to
receive a visa. Foreigners traveling to Australia for the first time must
provide bank statements or other financial information, a letter from their
employer showing their position and salary, length of employment and
confirmation that they have been given time off work for the duration of their
If visiting relatives or friends, a letter of invitation from the
relative or friend in Australia may also be required.
While some have
claimed the fall in tourism is due to the high Australian dollar, Rifai believes
it is due to the difficult visa process.
"The cost is not the major
factor here, it's the ease of reaching here, cost of travel and cost and
complications of entry," said Rifai. "Cost is a very important element in
competitiveness but it should not be too much of an obsession. Some of the most
attractive destinations in the world are some of the most expensive destinations
in the world as well."
Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Australia. Please visit
our Australian page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/australia.html