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AUS­TRALIA’S busi­ness events in­dus­try is call­ing for an over­haul of visa ar­range­ments as part of re­forms be­ing con­sid­ered by the Fed­eral Govt.

On be­half of the sec­tor, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralian Con­ven­tion Bureaux (AACB) has high­lighted the sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion in­ter­na­tional busi­ness del­e­gates make to the na­tional econ­omy, point­ing out that typ­i­cal con­fer­ence at­ten­dees spend 9% more than leisure tourists.

It has lodged a sub­mis­sion with the Govt call­ing for a sim­pler sys­tem that ben­e­fits low-risk, high-yield vis­i­tors.

New AACB pres­i­dent and ceo of the Mel­bourne Con­ven­tion Bureau Karen Bolinger said the cur­rent costly visa sys­tem meant Aus­tralia was los­ing out in the race to at­tract and host large busi­ness events.

“The price-sen­si­tive in­cen­tive travel mar­ket is even worse af­fected, with Aus­tralia of­ten writ­ten off as a des­ti­na­tion, due to our visa costs,” she said.

Bolinger said NZ’s visa sys­tem al­lowed for greater flex­i­bil­ity where fees could be waived or off­set for event del­e­ga­tions.

“Aus­tralia needs a visa sys­tem that is eas­ier to un­der­stand... and flex­i­ble enough for Aus­tralia to re­main a com­pet­i­tive des­ti­na­tion”.

AACB ceo An­drew Hiebl said be­sides del­e­gates be­ing high yield­ing, they were also far more likely to be low-risk vis­i­tors.

“In­ter­na­tional con­ven­tion del­e­gates are far less likely to over­stay a visa and have a higher visa grant rate than leisure trav­ellers,” he said.

Hiebl said AACB’s pro­posal would stream­line the process for del­e­gates and en­cour­age more at­ten­dance from Asia.

CLICK HERE to view the visa over­haul sub­mis­sion.

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