12 March 2009

Australia may give free flights for international tourists

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The Australian Government will have an initiative proposed to them this week that would have them paying for tourists to fly to Australia.

According to The Age, Independent Tourism Holdings' innovation director Glenn Millen has spearheaded the idea, which is hoped to offset the damages to Australian industry caused by the global economic conditions.

The "Mayday Project" would involve the Government buying subsidised flights from airline carriers and giving the seats to tourists, who in return must promise to spend a certain amount of money in local shops, hotels, attractions and activities (amounting to around $5,000).

Mr Millen says the novelty of the project would be its selling factor, alongside Australia's favourable exchange rate. 

"We can really limit the impact of the recessionary slide on tourism through this," he said.  "We can try and hold the numbers that we were at and that would be a really good scenario or, if there is a Santa Claus, we might increase the numbers against the trend."

His proposal suggests the Government redirects money from pre-existing marketing campaigns for Australian tourism.

During the downturn, Victoria is the only state that is defying the national trend of dropping international visitor numbers.  Further, it has been reported that international visitors to the state are spending 10 per cent more in total expenditure, which is a welcome result after the devastating bushfires in January ravaged many tourism destinations in the northern part of the state.

Americans particularly would benefit from the initiative, having favourable exchange rates against the Australian Dollar.  American tourists need an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) in order to travel to Australia for purposes of tourism.

The ETA is attached electronically to one's passport, and is for nationals from countries participating in Australia's visa waiver programme.  The ETA is an Australian holiday visa that allows travellers to travel Australia for tourism purposes for up to three months.


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