China has overtaken Germany and the United States as the world’s leading travel spenders, recording US$102 billion in international travel receipts last year – an increase of more than 40 percent on 2011. In Australia, the number of Chinese visitors tripled in the last ten years, with China now accounting for 10 percent of Australia’s international tourism market. Hoteliers backed up these figures, claiming 70 percent of Chinese guests worldwide now travel independently – while in Australia the figure was even higher at 82 percent. The Asia-Pacific region recorded the largest increase in Chinese visitors, at 61 percent last year. “Governments will have to take this into account when organising their visa application infrastructure and processes,” Hotels.com Asia Pacific managing director Johan Svanstrom said. “Australia is facing stiff competition from other destination for visitors from China with high levels of discretionary spending which is why our current visa restrictions are one of the biggest concerns for Chinese travel companies,” Mr Munro said. Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive Richard Munro believes the Coalition’s proposed changes to visa access will have dramatic economic benefits for Australia’s tourism industry. “In particular, free independent travellers from China are required to complete visa documents up to 38 pages long – even for a short-stay holiday. 62 percent of Chinese travellers said they prefer to travel independently and not as part of a group. Tourism Australia recently launched its Chinese consumer website in order to cater specifically to the growing influx of Chinese visitors. Source = ETB News: P.T. “Currently, Australia welcomes more than 685,000 Chinese visitors a year (2012/13) and visa changes would enhance the chances of pushing this figure to 1 million by 2020,” Mr Munro said. “Increasingly, we are seeing travellers from China looking to create their own tailor made itineraries… which is why we developed the new Australia.cn website,” Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said. Australia must adjust its visa process, considering Chinese travellers are now the world’s leading spenders, preferring to travel independently, according to new research. The second annual Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) 2013 has revealed a growing trend in independent, high spending Chinese leisure travellers. “The Coalition’s proposed scheme would see visas lodged electronically, drastically cutting the time and effort currently required for Chinese tourists who wish to visit Australia, including the extension of multiple-entry visas.” Australia needs to change visa processes in order to welcome more Chinese visitors, according to the Accommodation Association of Australia.