Some 59 Australian travel agents and 88 from Chine have now been recognised to take part in the Approved Destination Status scheme to provide streamlined travel arrangements for organised tour groups.
The Approved Destination Status scheme is a bilateral tourism arrangement established in 1999 between the Chinese Government and the Australian Government, recognising the increasing interest in visiting Australia shown by Chinese people. It is managed by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism in conjunction with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and Tourism Australia.
Special safeguards are in place to ensure that visa holders comply with their visa conditions and that the Australian Approved Destination Status agents helps maintain the integrity of the scheme. This means that approved Destination Status visa holders have to stay with their tour group and are not able to work, study, or extend the length of their visa while in Australia.
Agents must abide by the Approved Destination Status Code of Business Standards and Ethics. If they fail to meet the levels of professionalism required, they may be sanctioned. If any tour group member fails to abide by the visa conditions or fails to leave Australia, their agent must notify the department within 48 hours.
The China National Tourism Administration regulates the operations of travel agents in China and the DIAC has specific responsibility for the operations of the scheme in China. Both the department and the China National Tourism Administration can impose sanctions on those who do not meet the required standards.
Quote from AustraliaForum.com : “Hi everyone, I’m an Aussie trying to get back to Australia with my Chinese wife. We have been married just over 6 months. We are applying for a tourist visa for her and later a spouse visa. I graduated last year, and have just been doing a bit of private English teaching in China over the last 6 months.”
A DIAC spokesman said that effectively agents enter into a Deed of Agreement with the department and they must also abide by a Code of Conduct. If they fail to meet the levels of professionalism required, they may be sanctioned. The first Approved Destination Status visitors arrived in Australia in August 1999. As of 30 June 2012, more than 809,000 Approved Destination Status visa holders had visited the country.
In 2011/2012, some 137,113 people arrived on Approved Destination Status visas compared with 108,487 in 2010/2011 and 77,804 in 2009/2010. The Approved Destination Status non return rate for 2011/2012 was 0.07% compared to a global visitor non return rate of 0.79%.