China as Australia’s tourism partner

Identified as Australia’s second largest tourism market, China continues to become a valuable tourism partner, funneling thousands of tourists Down Under every year. In 1999, both countries agreed on the Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme, a bilateral agreement that lets Australia promote the country as a leisure travel destination to groups of Chinese tourists. The initiative has been successful; and on July 23, 2013, the Australian government welcomed the millionth visa under the ADS scheme. In this light, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) gives the following details about the ADS program:

Australia-China ADS relationship becomes stronger

Chinese-targeted tourism program

The Approved Destination Status is a stream under subclass 600, one of Australia’s visitor visa programs. This tourist visa stream allows organised Chinese travellers to enter Australia and discover its wonders. The visa requires that applicants are outside Australia both during application and visa grant. ADS visa holders must remain with their tour group, are not allowed to work or study in the country and cannot extend their stay while in Australia.

This Australia visa scheme is managed by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (RET) together with DIAC and Tourism Australia.

ADS objectives

To ensure that Chinese tourists will have worthwhile Australian tourism experience, the ADS follows these two objectives:

  • To restore integrity, competition, and fair trading to the operation of the ADS inbound market, especially in relations between operators and shops and operators and tourists.
  • To empower Chinese inbound tourists with knowledge and choice to exercise effective consumer power in the inbound market.

Use of agents

Australia and China have designated agents for this specific visa program. As of November 2012, the Minister of Tourism in Australia has approved 59 agents to participate in the scheme. Likewise, China has 88 travel agents. These agents help maintain the integrity of the visa scheme by following the Approved Destination Status Code of Business Standards and Ethics. Failure to abide by the rules warrant sanctions which can be administered by either DIAC or the China National Tourism Administration.

Tourism relationship between Australia and China

Records show that China is Australia’s largest tourism market in terms of total inbound tourism expenditure. In 2012, the Australian government earned $4.2 billion from Chinese tourists equaling to 626,000 travellers to Australia. If this trend continues, tourism forecast indicates that the number of Chinese tourists travelling to Australia will reach 976,000 in 2020 per year; the numbers will produce more or less $8 billion for Australia.

After the 2009-10 positive evaluation of the ADS scheme by the KPMG, Australia allotted $4.1 million for the continuation of this visa program until June 30, 2014. This shows that Australia-China tourism relationship will become stronger than ever, propelling more Australia visa applications in the years to come.

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