Tourism industry set for a boost as international students granted transport concessions

The Victorian government has announced that from 2015 international students are able to access public transport concession cards, in a bid to boost local tourism and the economy.

The move will see overseas students offered a 50% annual discount for public transport tickets. Victoria and NSW are the only states that do not offer the same concession rates for international students that are available to their domestic counterparts – despite these states having the highest numbers of international enrolments.

Victorian Tourism Industry Council chief executive Dianne Smith welcomes the changes, saying the new concession rates for international students will provide a good opportunity for businesses despite the government being “a bit slow” on the issue.

“This is obviously going to assist the tourism industry,” Smith told SmartCompany. “We have great cosmopolitan experiences in Melbourne and offer great regional experiences in Victoria.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the international education sector contributed $16.3 billion in export income to the Australian economy in the 2010-2011 period. Smith says if businesses want to really tap into the international student market, then they need to create positive experiences.

“They bring with them their friends and relatives,” she says. “It can lead to repeat visitation. Family and friends are great value for tourism.”

Smith says the key is for businesses to work closely with colleges and tertiary institutions so that international students are fully aware of where they can travel.

“Already there’s quite a lot of collaboration between the tertiary and tourism sector. And we would encourage our members to maintain and increase that collaboration because we have to make sure opportunities are available and promoted well.”

In a statement, Victorian Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder said international student concessions would be available in all metropolitan zones as well as regional centres. The scheme will apply to trams, buses and trains.

“This will make international students feel even more welcome when they come to study in Victoria and enhance our reputation as a world leading international student city,” he said. “An overseas student will now save up to $1105 per year travelling across the greater city of Melbourne.”

International students have long agitated for changes to public transport concession rates, particularly over concerns that some international students are risking their safety by walking home late at night because they cannot afford public transport.

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