06 July 2009

Best deals for travelling to Australia

With the travel industry reeling, it's not hard to find an Australian vacation bargain, even at the last minute.

Uluru Australia

Some great travel deals are on offer for those travelling to Australia, and it is a perfect season to see Uluru and the Northern Territory.

A number of factors are making Australia look like a steal for the next few months, for US and British travellers.

It is now winter season in Australia, the US dollar has gained close to 25 percent against the Australian dollar over the last year, to almost 1.27 Australian dollars, bolstering Americans' buying power.

The pound is still buying just over AU$2, a little down on previous years but still means those travelling to Australia get a better deal than travelling in the EU where a pound buys around €1.15.

On top of the more favorable exchange rate, resorts from Uluru to Melbourne are offering discounts of as much 30 percent to lure guests amid the travel slump.

And airfare — one of the biggest expenses of any trip to Australia — has been slashed, thanks to new entrants in the trans-Pacific air-travel market that offer nonstop flights from Los Angeles.

The same is true for British travellers with flights from London to Australia from £500 return.

Tourism Australia, the government tourism agency, also lists vacation deals and suggested itineraries and vacation packages on their website.

While it's technically winter in the Southern Hemisphere when it's summer in the UK, temperatures are mild all year in much of Australia. And its northern destinations, including the Great Barrier Reef and the Northern Territory, rich in aboriginal culture, are especially popular in June, July and August.

If you are thinking about a short-term holiday in Australia, and do not hold an Australian or New Zealand passport, you will need an Australian travel visa.

The most common type is the Electronic Travel Authorisation, or ETA visa, which can be used to travel in Australia for up to three months, provided the holder does not participate in work whilst in the country. 

As the ETA is electronic, it can be granted online within seconds and your passport does not need any paper labels or stamps.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with travel visas and other immigration needs.

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