03 October 2008

Direct flights from Japan to Gold Coast hoped to revive Australian tourism

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Japanese tourists will soon be able to fly directly to Australia’s famous Gold Coast from Osaka and Tokyo, reports The Daily.com, and it is hoped the once booming Japanese tourist market in Australia will pick up momentum.

The first Japanese tourists to take advantage of the new direct flights were greeted by the Gold Coast Airport (GCA) committee with koalas, lifesavers and dress-up kangaroos.

Paul Donovan, head of GCA, said the new routes will undoubtedly improve tourism prospects for local operators.

"It's a chance for us to gather back momentum that we had with the Japanese market years ago.  They were the driving force on the coast and we believe with these direct flights we can bring some of those numbers back," he told the news provider.

The new flights will mean an extra 3,636 tourists per week will be able to visit Australia.

During August, the Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson held meetings in Japan to discuss tourism opportunities and increase the profile of “the Australian experience” for Japanese tourists.

"The past decade has seen a decline in the number of Japanese tourists coming to Australia and this visit is an important step in raising awareness of the work being done by the Australian Government and the Australian tourism industry to better meet the changing Japanese market," he said.

Despite this, in 2007 more than 500,000 Japanese tourists applied for an Australian travel visa and injected AUD$1.6 million into the Australian economy.  JATA also recently awarded Australia a key destination on its “Visit the World” campaign.

"These measures will reinforce Australia as a first-choice tourism destination and reflect our commitment to the tourism industry and our friends in Japan," he added.

As Japan is part of Australia’s Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) programme, Japanese passport holders can enter Australia on a travel visa and stay for up to three months.  The ETA is considered the most streamlined and efficient travel authorisation system in the world, meaning Japanese tourists can in most cases be granted a travel visa instantaneously.

Conditions of the visa do not allow visitors to Australia to work in the country during their stay, and are given up to 12 months after the date of approval to enter the country.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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