17 February 2009

Gold Coast's summer for tourism one of its best

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Amidst fears that the global recession would adversely affect tourism in Australia, Queensland's famous Gold Coast has reported one of its best summer's for tourism.

According to The Age, anecdotal evidence and early data shows that the Gold Coast continued to draw huge crowds of tourists to its golden beaches, theme parks and shopping malls despite the financial woes of the northern hemisphere. 

A hotel benchmarking company STR Global reports that four- and five-star hotel bookings were up 16 per cent for the year to January 2009.  Queensland Airports figures show the number of domestic passengers through the Gold Coast Airport were higher than the previous year for October and November, although December saw a slight drop.  During 2008, the total number of passengers was up 14.9 per cent on 2007.

The tourism influx has been attributed to cheap flights from Asia, while Australians are also choosing to holiday domestically rather than fork out money for international flights.

"When people are looking for affordable, value holidays, they cannot only find them with regard to accommodation and things to do but they can get on a plane and make it happen," says Gold Coast Tourism chief executive Martin Winter.

The Gold Coast has traditionally been a favourite for Asian tourists and British backpackers making their way down the east coast of Australia, and tourism operators in the Gold Coast have been working hard to keep the city cheap and affordable for all types of travellers.

Although most young British travellers are cruising the coast on an Australian working holiday visa, most Asian tourists would need to apply for an Australian holiday visa to visit the country.  The ETA is the most commonly applied-for Australian holiday visa, and is attached electronically to one's passport.  The ETA visa allows people to visit Australia for purposes of tourism for up to three months, and is in most cases granted online in seconds.

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