The AACB said that the business visitor numbers, particularly delegates visiting Australia for incentive experiences or business events, which can be up to 9 percent higher than leisure visitors, are falling.
Karen Bolinger, AACB president, was quoted by CIM News magazine as saying that their country was beginning to lose association conventions and major corporate incentives owing to its costly and intricate visa system. She said that Australia was not frequently being selected as a destination owing to its visa costs because the worst affected is the incentive travel market, which is price-sensitive. That is the reason why most major conventions are increasingly being held in Asia, where their financial risk is being alleviated by the government, Bolinger added.
She stated that many of their rivals in Asian have made it easier for business travellers to attend conventions and business events. According to her, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, for instance, allow visitors visa-free from most of Asian, North American and European countries. Bolinger said that New Zealand also has a visa system with much more flexibility, allowing fees to be waived or compensated for business event delegations.
If Australia has to win back business travellers, the need of the hour is a visa system that is easier to comprehend and be able to accommodate growing number of visitors and Oz will remain a viable destination for temporary travellers and the longer-term migrants it needs.
Andrew Hiebl, CEO of the AACB, feels that the reformed visa system needs to concentrate more on high-growth nations from where travellers, who are low-risk and high-yield, come from.
He said that this would reduce the risk for business delegates and higher yielding visitors. He also stated that overseas convention delegates are more unlikely to overstay a visa and get visas granted at a faster rate than tourists.
Hiebl said that the visa reforms they have proposed to offer the government of Australia a cost-neutral alternative that would smooth the procedures for trade events delegates and attract more people from growth markets such as China, Indonesia, India and Thailand.
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