Six million tourists visited Australia for the first time ever last year.
09 October 2012
Australian tourism's six million surge
Six million tourists visited Australia for the first time in the past year, marking an important milestone in the revival of the Australian tourism market.
With much of the world in an economic slump, Australia's continued resistance resulted in a strong Australian Dollar which weakened its appeal to international travellers and ETA visa numbers inevitably dropped.
However, as much of the world continues its road to economic recovery, many tourists are heading abroad once more, and once more, Australia is proving to be one of the most popular destinations.
Asian tourists led the way to Australia's landmark total with a 6.5% increase in Asian arrivals contributing heavily to a 1.2% increase overall. Chinese tourists accounted for a 15% increase while Taiwan recorded a similarly impressive 14%.
Australia's traditional markets have been the UK, Ireland, Japan and the US, each of which also recorded increases, as much as 7% from Japan.
The latest report wasn't all good news however, with tourists from Australia's closest cousin New Zealand falling more than 3%; the drop has been blamed on the introduction of a passenger movement charge between the two countries.
"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," said John Lee, chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum.
But Mr Lee said the numbers overall were positive and looked forward to further improvement.
Jenny Espiner, Tourist Visa Department Manager at the Australian Visa Bureau, says it's thanks to a delayed economic recovery that the tourist market is beginning to grow again.
"For the past couple of years most people have tended to holiday in Europe or not even leave the country in an effort to save money," said Ms Espiner.
"But now people have a little more disposable income again and the sense of adventure returns, we're likely to see even more people heading Down Under."
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.