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Tourist visas - another record year.

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Tourist Visas - Another Record Year MPS 100/2001

Tourist visa grants reached record highs in the past financial year, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock announced today.

"Visitor visa grants in 2000-2001 reached 3.54 million, up 9.8 percent on the previous year, which was already a record," Mr Ruddock said.

"Some of these visitors will not yet have arrived in Australia, while others will be making several visits on the one visa, so we could see record arrival numbers again this year.

"It is especially encouraging to see sustained growth in Asia where visitor numbers from some countries fell away during the recent economic crisis.

"In particular, the Republic of Korea (with a 17 percent increase in visas) and Indonesia (with a 23 percent increase in visas) have been strong performers," Mr Ruddock said.

There was also strong growth in visas issued to nationals in a number of established and emerging tourist markets. (see attached table)

"This has been achieved while maintaining the integrity of Australia's visitor visa program. The non-return rate for visitors fell to 2.15 percent in 2000-01 from 2.41 percent in 1999-00," Mr Ruddock said.

"Much of the phenomenal growth in visitors has been attributed to highly successful marketing by the Australian Tourist Commission, the low Australian dollar and the global excitement generated by the Sydney 2000 Games.

"But these increases have also been the result of a strong and sustained commitment by the Government to deliver tourist visas in innovative ways," Mr Ruddock said.

The Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) has been particularly successful. Since its introduction in 1996, the ETA system has delivered over 10.5 million 'virtual visas' to clients when they book their travel to Australia.

From 28 May 2001, visitors to Australia were also able to obtain their ETA over the Internet, making it even easier to obtain their visa.

"There are also a number of other initiatives designed to facilitate the entry of visitors from non-ETA locations, including the Approved Destination Scheme with the People's Republic of China (PRC)," Mr Ruddock said.

This scheme has seen strong growth (35 percent) in the number of visitor visas issued in the PRC in 2000-01. For the first time, visitor visa grants in the PRC broke the 100,000 mark.

The "sponsored" visitor category introduced by the Government on 1 July 2000 has also ensured that more people from overseas can visit their relatives in Australia. More than 7,300 sponsored visitor visas were issued in 2000-01.

"There has also been strong growth in the number of business visitor visas with the continued success of the International Events Coordinator Network (IECN) within my Department," Mr Ruddock said.

"In 2000-01 Business Visitor visa grants increased by 11.3 percent. The IECN plays an important role in assisting the organisers of a large number of major conferences and events," he said.

26 July 2001

Media Contact: Steve Ingram 0419 278 715

Visitor Visa Grants (including Business Visitors and Sponsored Visitors) Top 15 non-ETA countries

  1998-99 1999-00 2000-01

Country of grant Visas NRR (%) Visas NRR (%) Visas NRR (%) China 57,530 10.86 78,671 8.28 106,512 4.11

Indonesia 62,669 8.71 52,915 4.96 65,241 3.34

Thailand 45,746 4.47 53,094 3.43 61,832 2.70

South Africa 38,042 3.49 38,119 3.88 41,844 2.38

India 22,971 6.51 29,394 6.98 34,626 5.56

Philippines 31,116 15.92 29,958 14.72 25,029 7.59

Fiji 17,018 7.87 18,245 8.38 16,252 8.80

Papua New Guinea 16,694 2.16 14,613 3.08 14,537 3.07 UAE 11,638 0.15 13,826 0.28 14,115 0.29

Israel 10,483 8.33 11,217 7.92 12,441 5.24

Brazil 5,584 5.66 6,970 9.37 9,319 6.35

Argentina 7,648 2.50 8,516 2.63 8,790 3.16

Sri Lanka 5,002 10.84 6,592 8.42 6,911 5.19

Russia 5,732 8.31 5,383 9.06 6,900 5.61

Poland 5,002 13.16 5,638 12.72 6,593 9.54

NRR = Non-Return Rate: The proportion of visitors who did not depart before the expiry of the visa on which they entered.

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