AUSTRALIA is seeing increasing numbers of Chinese and Japanese visitors, who are driving steady growth in inbound tourism despite the robust Australian currency and continued economic frailty in key longhaul markets.
According to Australia’s Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, overall arrivals in 1Q2012 grew 4.1 per cent year-on-year. During the quarter, there were nearly 200,000 Chinese visitors to Australia, a 10.7 per cent year-on-year increase, while Japanese arrivals rose 5.8 per cent to 98,000.
Longhaul markets such as the US and UK did not fare too badly either, said Australian Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson.
"A recovery in arrivals is now more evident from the US, which has increased by 3.3 percent and the UK, which rose by 3.1 percent, despite relative weakness in their respective economies,” he was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.
Meanwhile, the main underperforming markets were Malaysia and Germany.
Ferguson credited improved flight access as a key driver in the growth of inbound tourism. "The Australian government has been in negotiations to continue to expand our airlines' access to the world and to allow foreign carriers to increase their access to Australia," he said.
Carriers such as China Southern Airlines, which doubled its Guangzhou-Melbourne services to twice-daily last October (TTG Asia e-Daily, August 8, 2011), and launched thrice-weekly Beijing-Perth flights a month later, are leading the charge to provide adequate air connectivity for Chinese tourists looking to head Down Under.