Australia Signs Visa Pact, China Eases Travel Rules

By Savadove, Bill | Business Asia, May 3, 1999 | Go to article overview

Australia Signs Visa Pact, China Eases Travel Rules


Savadove, Bill, Business Asia


China has agreed to allow large-scale tourism to Australia in a move that could give a major boost to the Australian economy.

The two countries, capping nearly six years of talks, signed an agreement on April 22 allowing group travellers to visit Australia on tourist visas, officials of the Australian Tourist Commission said.

"We could be looking at China as being our biggest, or one of our biggest two or three markets," said Mr John Morse, the commission's managing director. "The economic benefits are huge."

The commission, a government-funded body, also opened a Shanghai office to promote Australia as a new tourist destination.

China once clamped tight curbs on foreign travel by its citizens, partly out of fear they would not return.

However, as China's economy prospers, more citizens have become able to afford pleasure travel and Beijing has gradually relaxed its stance.

"With the improvement of China's living standards and economy, more people can afford travelling overseas," said Mr He Guangwei, director of the China National Tourism Administration.

China had 8.4 million overseas travellers last year, of which 3.5 million paid their own way, official figures showed.

Many nations are positioning themselves to tap into the expected rush of Chinese seeking to explore the world's leading travel destinations. …

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