23 March 2007

Airline deal to bring more tourists to Australia

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Middle East based carriers Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways will double their services to Australia by 2011 in a deal that could boost tourist numbers by 200,000 annually.

The Australian and UAE governments signed an air service agreement allowing an additional 56 flights a week to Australia by 2011, 35 of them for Emirates and 21 services for Etihad.

"By 2011, Emirates and Etihad will be able to fly in an additional 200,000 tourists to Australia, injecting millions of dollars into our economy and creating plenty of jobs," Fran Bailey, Minister for Small Business and Tourism, said today.

"'So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?' is generating strong global interest and the additional seat capacity will help meet this demand. This decision will help attract more big spending tourists from the Gulf Countries.

"With a strong Aussie dollar, the tourism industry will appreciate the extra flights and competition offered by Emirates and Etihad. This decision will allow additional capacity to Melbourne and Brisbane Airports and deliver a welcome boost to tourism in Victoria and Queensland."

Emirates and Etihad will also offer great deals for tourists from Central Europe (e.g. Germany) to fly to Australia via Dubai and Abu Dhabi, saving hours in flying time.

"The additional flights will appeal to tourists from Germany and Italy, who will appreciate the extra time saved by flying via a hub in the Gulf Countries. Tourism Australia will now strengthen its cooperative marketing efforts to reach these potential tourists," Fran Bailey said.

Fran Bailey also welcomed the decision to grant Australian carriers with the ability to access a total of 112 services per week from March 2011.

"Australian carriers have been granted reciprocal capacity rights. This will give Qantas and Virgin Blue the right to service this lucrative market."

Tourists from the Gulf Countries spent $2,362 each and stayed for 41 days in 2006. They spent $110 million in 2006, up 27%. In 2006, 46,700 tourists from the Gulf Countries visited Australia, an increase of 8.8%.

The agreement comes just a week after the Australian Government gave approval for Qatar Airways to fly to Melbourne and introduce a second daily service to another Australian city from 2008.

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