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The Independent Travel
WE RECENTLY reported that the French tourist office has followed the Dutch and US tourist offices by levying a premium-rate charge for the privilege of telephoning for information. Mr I Benjamin says that this development 'pales into insignificance' beside the elaborate procedure that now has to be followed by anyone wishing for information about an Australian tourist visa.

'The excellent guide issued by the Australian Tourist Commission lists an 0891 number for visa applications. Phoning that number leads one through a long and costly rigmarole at a pace which suggests that anyone wishing to visit the country must be mentally impaired. The result is advice to send a 9in by 12in stamped self-addressed envelope to Shoreham-by-Sea for an application form. This is returned very quickly, but inside is an application form that could easily have gone into an ordinary 4in by 9in envelope. The additional space and cost is for an interesting but unwanted newspaper mainly containing ads for commercial operators.'

Mr Benjamin says that if one applies in person for a visa at Australia House in London, there are unlimited supplies of forms available. 'And the visas are issued with great expedition, all windows being open, even at lunchtime - a lesson that could well be learnt by our banks.'

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