Over Six Million Came Last Year, With China And Taiwan Leading The Way
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/02/2012 -- Asian tourism to Australia last year set a new record of over six million visitors, putting them at the forefront of the revival of tourism Down Under. The trend has also continued strong this year, as the number of Asian visitors has risen 6.5%, far outstripping the 1.2% increase from all other sources.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics, which tracks arrivals and departures, reported tourists from China climbed in August by almost 15% from a year earlier, followed closely by Taiwanese travelers, up by 14%. Tourists from Japan also rose 7%. Many more traditional non-Asian sources also contributed to the tourism industry’s upturn: travelers from Ireland rose 13%, and visitors from America increased almost 3%.
At the same time, arrivals fell for the second straight month from the nation's biggest source of visitors, nearby New Zealand, with a decline of over 3%. John Lee, the chief executive of an Australian tourism and transport association, laid the blame for the decline squarely on the 8% hike in a government fee on visiting Kiwis.
Adopted in May by the Australian government as a budget move, the increase from $47 to $55 took effect in July. Lee acidly noted, “Charging our biggest inbound market the highest short-haul departure tax of any developed country in the world does not help to improve our competitiveness or encourage greater tourist expenditure in the visitor economy.'' But Lee still acknowledged Australia’s overall tourism figures showed improvement, despite the uncertain international economic situation.
The latest figures also showed slowing growth in travel abroad by Australians, with residents’ departures for other countries growing just 6% over the past year, compared with a more than 10% gain the previous year. The largest fall-offs were in Australians traveling to Egypt, Argentina and Greece. Still, over eight million Aussies headed overseas during the past year, up from the previous year’s 7.8 million.
New Zealand remains the most popular foreign destination for Australians, with over a million traveling there during the past year. Indonesia took second place, with over 800,000 Aussie visitors, and Thailand come in third with over a half million visitors from Down Under.
The fastest-growing destination, though, was French Polynesia. Starting from an admittedly low baseline, the number of Australians traveling there soared by more than 50%, to about 9,000. Qantas’s introduction of flights to Santiago helped Aussie travel to Chile climb over 30%. And just as more Asians are discovering Australia, the reverse is also true, with increasing Australian travel recorded for Asia generally, and Sri Lanka and Thailand in particular. Brazil, Poland and the Cook Islands also notched notable gains.
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