Southeast Asian tourists eager for Australia's 10-year visa

By Hoang Phong, Xanh Le   March 8, 2024 | 03:30 pm PT
Southeast Asian tourists eager for Australia's 10-year visa
A tourist applies make-up in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Reuters
Many Southeast Asian tourists have expressed excitement about Australia extending its 10-year frequent traveler visa scheme to their countries, and they await further instructions.

Karen Loo from Malaysia told VnExpress International she felt surprised and happy as she knew that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had announced the extension of his 10-year frequent traveler visa scheme to "eligible ASEAN countries and Timor-Leste."

The PM's announcement was made on Tuesday at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne where he hosted the leaders of Laos, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Timor-Leste, according to a statement from the official website of the Australian PM.

Despite expressing her satisfaction with the new policy, Karen is concerned Australia will impose some strict conditions for those wanting to apply for the visa scheme, which allows visitors to stay for up to three months each time.

She said she has visited Australia on a one-year visitor visa and was impressed by the weather and natural beauty of the country.

Yang Shan from Singapore, who visited Perth, called the new visa policy "amazing."

"For me the policy changes were fine," he said.

Prior to the pandemic, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia were among the biggest tourism feeders in Australia.

On a Facebook page about Australian visa policies, many citizens from Southeast Asia expressed their surprise about the 10-year visa scheme and questioned how it would be applied.

"Never heard that. Good to know," a Malaysian citizen wrote.

"How to apply this visa? This is my first time to hear it," another Malaysian Facebook user commented.

Ivana Palacios from the Philippines said the 10-year visa policy would be beneficial for Australia when it comes to its economy and tourism as many Southeast Asians tend to travel not individually but by group.

In 2019, Southeast Asian visitor arrivals in the country peaked at 1.5 million visitors, and added an estimated A$4.2 billion (US$2.7 billion) to the Australian economy, according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

However, Ivana also worried that it could cause a burden to the Australian government because some tourists might take advantage of the 10-year tourist visa to work illegally.

On the Australian government immigration website, updates on conditions necessary to apply for the 10-year visa for tourists from Southeast Asia have yet to be posted.

Before the extension, the policy was only applied to Chinese passport holders as part of Australia’s efforts to boost arrivals from the world's second largest population.

However, industry insiders said Australia is losing out as Chinese tourists have been flocking to Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Malaysia, where visa-free policies have been adopted.

The recent policy extension by the Australian PM is expected to fuel Australia’s tourism sector by attracting a larger number of visitors from Southeast Asia and Timor-Leste, enhancing economic contributions and strengthening regional relationships, insiders said.

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