Australian Tourism Warns on Student Visa Changes
The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has urged politicians on all sides to consider the full economic consequences of restricting future international student visa numbers, citing a report which shows more than eighty per cent of international students attract at least one other overseas visitor to Australia during their stay.
ATEC Managing Director Matt Hingerty said the International Education Visitation Tourism Opportunities report, published earlier this year by the Sustainable Tourism Co-operative Research Centre (STCRC), showed the ramifications of cutting student visas were not fully understood by either side of the political divide and said further industry consultation was necessary on the issue.
“This report shows the impact of the international student market on the inbound tourism industry in black and white. Any changes to international student visa numbers need to be made with the knowledge of the flow-on effects this will have on other sectors of the economy.”
Hingerty said the report, the first comprehensive tourism study of international students and their visiting friends and relatives, showed the international education sector was a vital component of Australia’s $26 billion inbound tourism sector, with more than 70 per cent of student visa holders expecting at least two friends and two family members to visit them in Australia.
He added: “Australian tourism businesses are just emerging from one of the most challenging trading periods in recent memory, having to deal with the Global Financial Crisis, a high dollar, a shortage of labour and increased competition from overseas tourism destinations. ATEC looks forward post-election to explaining to both sides of politics that decreasing the number of international students will adversely impact the inbound tourism industry.”