RAY CLANCY | Australia Forum
“I believe there is an important opportunity to consider practical and meaningful ways to further enhance the visa and travel arrangements for visitors from PNG,” said Australia’s immigration minister, Chris Bowen.
PNG foreign affairs minister Rimbink Pato welcomed the move saying “the announcement is timely and addresses our long-standing request for more facilitative travel arrangements, including visa on arrival,” he said.
A joint ‘traveller facilitation taskforce’ is expected to identify legal and administrative requirements that will lead to the introduction of an electronic visa arrangement in the first half of 2013.
“With about 80% of all visa applications from PNG falling into the tourism and business activity categories, it is sensible to focus our attention on these travellers,” Mr Bowen said.
“This degree of priority reflects the significance of the unique and special relationship which Australia and PNG share,” he added.
Mr Pato said PNG travellers will welcome this announcement because they will have the privilege of applying for visas using the internet from their work places, homes or through selected travel agents, instead of the long queues experienced in the past.
PNG travellers requiring to travel at short notice will also benefit from shorter processing times that are offered by the electronic visa arrangement.