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Immigration Minister says tourism arrangements are working

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M e d i a R e l e a s eThe Hon. Philip Ruddock MR Parliament H ouse, Canberra ACT 2 6 0 0Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (06) 277 7860 Facsimile: (06) 273 4144MPS62/96IMMIGRATION MINISTER SAYS TOURISM ARRANGEMENTS ARE WORKINGThe Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, has welcomed the report International Visitor Survey, 1995, saying that Australia's quick and efficient passenger clearance procedures had made a major contribution to the continuing growth in tourism to Australia.The Minister said his Department had worked closely with the tourism industry to make travel simpler for international visitors while maintaining the integrity o f the nation's borders."The range of information about the likes and dislikes o f short-term tourists, and their satisfaction with services and travel arrangements, will be invaluable to my Department as it continues to assist international travellers," M r Ruddock said.The report, by the Bureau o f Tourism Research, showed that more than 3.4 million people visited Australia last year. This was expected to reach over 4 million people this year."It is interesting to note that despite claims to the contrary, only one per cent o f visitors surveyed disliked the visa requirements for Australia," M r Ruddock said."I think one reason for this is because under Australia's universal visa system, w e can - thanks to pre-arrival checks - process passengers in 55 seconds at our airports. In other countries, passengers receive a very poor impression when they queue on arrival for long periods, often after a tiring flight, while post-arrival checks are carried out.""Other procedures to make life simpler for travelers include Australia's new Electronic Travel Authority. The ETA came on line in Singapore last week, enabling passengers to be pre-cleared for travel as they make their travel arrangements, without the need to apply separately for a visa.ETA will be expanded to other countries including the United States and Japan later this year."The ETA has built on earlier initiatives such as Advanced Passenger Clearance and travel agency arrangements in 24 countries which also had been designed to facilitate visitor entry to Australia.The Minister noted that a small-sample survey in the report indicated some tourists had registered dissatisfaction with the availability o f interpreters and foreign language signage."My Department has been working for some months with the tourism industry and government and community sector organisations to address this issue." \"I expect to launch next month an action plan designed to help the industry make best use o f the skills and knowledge in migrant communities to meet the future needs of international visitors."CANBERRA 19 SEPTEMBER 1996Media inquiries: Steve Ingram 0419 278 715 or (06) 2777 860