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Indian visitors to Oz up 20 percent with online visa processing

Approval time for tourist visas (subclass 600) has lengthened from 14 days in 2015 to nearly 49 days in 2018-ATEC Source: Getty Images

The number of Indian visitors flocking to Australia is expected to reach around half a million by 2025, according to Tourism Australia.

Over 300,000 Indians visited Australia during the year ending March 2018, the largest number of Indian visitors to Australia in a single year.

It's a 20 per cent increase compared to 2016, as per the latest figures released by Tourism Australia.

The boom is being attributed to the online visa processing scheme introduced by the Australian government for Indian visitors in July 2017.

Tourists at the international airport in Sydney
A tourist at the international airport in Sydney
AAP

“The expansion of online lodgment of Indian applicants is an important step in managing the large number of visitor visa applications processed in India. Processing times for visas are now faster, as both applications and supporting documentation are immediately available to the processing office,” Tania Gerlach, the Chief Migration Officer at the Department of Home Affairs told TOI.

Amritpal Singh Makkar, a travel agent from Amritsar city in the northern Indian state of Punjab who specializes in Australian tourist visas told SBS Punjabi that his agency lodged over 200 tourist visas online since November, out of which at least 80 per cent were processed in a record time of 10 days.

“We had a nearly 100 per cent success rate and the best part is that most of the visa applications were processed in less than two weeks, all thanks to online visa system,” told Mr Makkar.

“Until last year, it would take at least a month and a half just to process a simple, no hassle tourist visa, and our staffers had to physically go and submit the documentation for the applicants, but now we are lodging at least 10 applications per day from just one city.”

indian tourist
An Indian tourist (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
AAP

One of Mr Makkar’s clients is 30-year-old Mandeep Kaur who has just received her tourist visa a few days ago.

The ecstatic Ms Kaur who’s been dreaming of visiting Australia since her days in school told SBS Punjabi that she cannot believe that she has “lucked out”.

“I got my visa in eight days,” told Ms Kaur whose excitement knows no bound and is now looking forward to enjoying a “hotly brewed coffee while overlooking the Sydney harbour.”

Over hundreds of thousands of Indian visitors are expected to join the likes of Ms Kaur in the coming decade, a number that is forecast to reach about half a million by 2025.

India tourism
Tourism Australia

In 2017, India was Australia’s eighth largest inbound market for visitor arrivals, according to Tourism Australia.

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