Williamstown, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/04/2012 -- Through to 2008, tourist arrivals to Australia had been steadily growing since 2004. In 2003, arrival numbers fell by 1% due to concern over the SARS pandemic. In 2004, 4.77mn tourists visited Australia and by 2008 that number had increased to 5.45mn. In 2009, however, tourist arrivals fell by 2.1% yearon- year (y-o-y) to 5.33mn. Before 2009, Australia's tourism growth was helped by the weakness of the Australian dollar, which increased the country's price competitiveness from major source destinations such as the UK and New Zealand. However, since the dollar strengthened in 2009 and 2010 it has negatively affected the industry's price competitiveness. Tourism was also affected by the global recession in 2009 as discretionary spending was reined in and businesses cut costs, including on international conferences. About a quarter of all arrivals to Australia are business travellers, with 1.58mn forecast to arrive in 2012 for business purposes and 3.35mn travelling for leisure. For 2010 and 2011, BMI calculates tourist arrivals rebounded to 5.58mn and 5.75mn respectively. We forecast tourist arrivals to reach 5.89mn in 2012 and to rise to 6.74mn by 2016.
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Tourism expenditure fell in 2009 to US$28.72bn from US$31.46bn in 2008. However, it is calculated to have recovered strongly in 2010 to US$32.35bn and US$34.30bn in 2011. We forecast increases to US$36.45bn in 2012 and US$48.72bn in 2016. Australia's tourism industry accounted for 3.0% of GDP in 2008 but this dropped to 2.9% in 2009. It is expected to slowly climb back to its 2007 high of 3.5% by the end of the forecast period.
The majority of tourists come to Australia from the Asia Pacific region, followed by Europe and North America. Inbound tourism from Asia Pacific has increased strongly since 2001, when just over 3mn people visited Australia, to reach over 4.15mn in 2012. Arrivals from the region are forecast to continue growing to more than 4.92mn by 2016. Out of the top 10 source markets for the Australian tourism industry, seven are in the Asia Pacific region. Australia attracts more of its tourists from New Zealand than any other country, followed by the UK and Japan.
India is also becoming an important market for Australia. Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson said: 'India is very important to Australia as a tourism opportunity. It is the 10th largest economy and has the second largest population in the world. India is going to go through a significant period of growth, which is going to create opportunities for people to rationally think about travel.' The ministry launched tourism campaigns in India with Qantas and Singapore Airlines in Q210 and it has a full-time office in Mumbai.
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