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2 May, 2012

Australia Suspends Agency Handling Chinese Groups for Ethics Breach


Canberra, 01 May 2012 (Ministry of Tourism) – The Australian Government has suspended Auga Travel Service Pty Ltd (Auga) from participating in the China: Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme for a three month period.

The ADS scheme provides streamlined travel opportunities for Chinese tour groups to Australia whilst ensuring that the integrity of Australia’s visitor visa program is maintained.

Australian travel agent, Auga, has been suspended for breaching the ADS scheme’s Code of Business Standards and Ethics by omitting a scheduled visit to a competitive shopping outlet. Under the Code, where a visit to a commission-linked shopping outlet is planned, the itinerary must also include a prior visit of at least the same duration to a competitive retail area.

The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP, said it was important that ADS approved operators are held accountable to the Code to ensure professional, high quality service for Chinese visitors.

“It is disappointing that we have had to suspend a tourism operator, but I make no apologies for rigorously ensuring standards are met, and that our Chinese guests receive the best experience possible,” Minister Ferguson said.

“The scheme has been enormously successfully, with more than 732,000 Chinese visitors enjoying Australia since the program began in August 1999, and all operators in the scheme, Australian or Chinese, are expected to maintain its integrity.”

Providing quality experiences for Chinese visitors is particularly important to the Australian tourism industry.

In 2011, Australia welcomed over half a million Chinese visitors, making China the third largest source of visitors to Australia. The independent Tourism Forecasting Committee estimates that arrivals from China will grow by 7.8 per cent per year on average, to reach 958,000 arrivals in 2020.

A number of initiatives, including T-QUAL Accreditation, the Strategic Tourism Investment Grant – Lifting Quality in the China Market and Tourism Australia’s Quality Experiences project, are also helping to raise the quality of tour experiences for Chinese tour groups and ensuring Australia is a competitive and appealing destination to Chinese visitors.

More information is available at www.ret.gov.au/ads