13 October 2008

NSW: Australia's top surfing destination

The Minister for Tourism Jodi McKay reported that one of New South Wales' greatest assets was its surf, reports Travel Blackboard, and in 2007 one million surfing tourists spent $11 million on surfing lessons alone.

"Surfing is a healthy experience which is appealing to both domestic and international visitors and is also delivering an economic boost to communities right along the NSW coast," Ms McKay told reporters.

This weekend Manly will be hosting the Beachley Classic, which Ms McKay believes is testament to Sydney being a world-class destination for surfers.  She also commented the biggest group of overseas visitors interested in Australian surfing tourism is backpackers, most of which come from the UK.

"Around 848,000 holidaying Australians went surfing in NSW last year, which was more than any other State," Ms McKay said.  "Surfing lessons are popular with the international backpacker market and NSW received 445,000 international backpackers last year."

Ms McKay also said more than half the number of international backpackers in Australia, most of whom are on an Australian working holiday visa, are likely to take surfing lessons.

According to the Minister, NSW has 77 of Australia’s top 100 surf beaches, which is why overseas visitors who want to experience Australia’s surfing culture spend a lot of their time exploring the state’s coastline.

"Surfing is part of the Australian way of life and is a great way for visitors to connect with local people and experience our culture," she added.

In related news, earlier this year, the Network – a market research company – released findings from a survey that showed Australia and New Zealand are the favourite long haul destinations for UK travellers.  The research also reported that travel agents are expecting a 17 per cent increase in the number of bookings for backpacking in Australia, reports the Travelmole.  Approximately half of all young Britons who take a gap year choose Australia or New Zealand as their destination.

From a more global perspective, Gapyear.com reports that more young international travellers are choosing Australia as their main destination when travelling around the world.  Tom Griffiths, founder of the company, said "STA Travel has reported record numbers of long-haul round the world tickets for 2007, and Australia is the number one destination."

Anna Siggs-Webster, working holiday Division Manager from the Australian Visa Bureau, said “The volume of working holiday visa sales to Australia for 2008 has increased significantly from 2007, a trend that is expected to continue in coming years.”

The Australian working holiday visa allows young travellers aged 18 to 30 years to work and travel the country for up to 12 months.  Conditions of the visa mean that visa holders cannot work for one employer for longer than six months.  Those who work in a specified occupation in regional Australia for three months or more are now also allowed to apply for a second working holiday visa.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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