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Australia `unlikely to accept joint visa'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/04/2016

Australia is unlikely to agree to a common tourist visa because New Zealand doesn't really know who it's letting in, Winston Peters says.

And the head of the Tourism Industry Association admits it won't be easy to persuade Australia to accept our screening process.

The tourism industry is lobbying for a regional visa covering both countries, saying there will be more visitors if there is one.

They're citing the Cricket World Cup 2015, when visitors only required an Australian visa to enter New Zealand.

A three month visa was granted on arrival - and 7238 travellers from 77 nations came in using the joint scheme.

Tourism and Transport Forum Australia and Tourism Industry Association NZ have written a joint letter to the Australian government calling for a permanent trans-Tasman visa by the end of this year.

Mr Peters, the leader of NZ First, doesn't think it's going to happen.

"Out of 3.1 million tourist arrivals here in 2015, only 1231 were refused entry - that's a daily average of just three people from 8500 arrivals," he said on Wednesday.

"Our visa grant rate is 99.96 per cent - in comparison, Australia's is 91.6 per cent.

"Either we have a better class of tourist, or thousands of suspect people are being allowed into our country," he said.

"It's clear New Zealand doesn't know with any precision who we are allowing in, and Australia is not about to lower its standards."

Mr Peters says Australia's visa grant rate for Chinese tourists is 94.2 per cent, and if New Zealand had the same rate 2346 Chinese nationals would have been refused entry in March alone.

"Yet in all of 2015, only 79 Chinese nationals were refused entry to New Zealand."

The Tourism Industry Association's chief executive, Chris Roberts, says New Zealand is more likely to accept Australian screening of visitors than the other way around.

"We may have to work a bit harder to get Australia to accept New Zealand's screening of visitors and then letting them into Australia," he told RNZ.

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