GCC visitors to get Australian visa in two days
Dubai, June 7, 2009
The Australian government has drastically shortened the visa processing time for GCC residents with immediate effect, and applications will be henceforth approved in as little as two days, said an Australian tourism official.
Applicants also have the choice of submitting visa applications at various counters in the Middle East, in which case processing will take five working days.
Under the new rules, processing time for Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman passport holders could be as short as two days for online applications submitted on www.immi.gov.au, said Andrew Oldfield, Distribution development manager, Tourism Australia (TA).
This is a drastic reduction from the time the consulate earlier took to process applications, and has become possible due to technological advancement and an increased handling capacity, Oldfield noted.
All GCC nationals receive a two-year, multiple-entry visa valid for up to three months’ stay at any one stretch. Visas are issued online and are label-free which means prospective GCC travellers to Australia need never leave home to apply.
There has been no change in visa processing times or mode of application for all other nationalities living in the Middle East.
“We are thrilled that the government has implemented steps to shorten visa processing times,’ Oldfield remarked.
“The Middle Eastern consumer is typically an impulse traveller, with bookings made an average of two weeks prior to travel. Having a two-day visa processing time should help attract more travellers to Australia this year,” he added.
Last year Australia welcomed 63,000 Gulf residents, a 21 per cent increase over Middle Eastern arrivals in 2007. This year, because there are many more flights connecting GCC nations to Australia, TA expects a higher number of travellers.
“Emirates airline alone operates 63 flights per week to Australia, which it will increase to 70 in winter. Etihad Airways flies 21 times a week while Qatar Airways will start operation in winter – so we soon expect over 100 flights a week will link several GCC cities with Australian ones,” said Oldfield.-TradeArabia News Service