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Tourist figures mount in Olympic year

The Olympic year continues to be a bumper year for the Australian tourism industry with the latest figures showing a 9.7 per cent increase in international visitor arrivals for June 2000 compared to June 1999.

Speaking from the New Zealand Tourism Conference in Wellington following the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Overseas, Arrivals and Departures figures, June 2000, Australian Tourist Commission (ATC) Managing Director, John Morse today welcomed the figures with strong growth from all five regions.

"Australia’s inbound tourism industry continues to strengthen in the lead up to the Sydney Olympic Games with a 9.7 per cent jump in visitor arrivals in June 2000 compared to June 1999," Mr Morse said.

"This is on top of strong growth in visitor arrivals in the five months to May 2000, with around 1.9 million visitors to Australia - a 9.1 per cent increase compared to the same time last year.

"Although the inbound visitor arrivals have grown at around nine per cent for the first six months - growth is not expected to be as strong in the second half of the year.

"Overall Australian tourism is performing well with strong growth from our major tourism markets, a return to growth from Japan and double digit growth from a number of key Asian markets - 2000 is shaping up to be a good year for tourism.

"Australia is now on track to deliver a record 4.7 million international tourists during the Olympic year - who will spend nearly $9 billion during their stay."

Mr Morse said the preliminary figures show a return to growth from Japan, which had experienced declines in visitor arrivals to Australia over the past two years.

"It is good to see Japan, which delivers over 700,000 visitors each year to Australia, is back in the black - with an estimated 5.4 per cent increase in visitor arrivals in June 2000 compared to June 1999," Mr Morse said.

"The US has also recorded strong growth in June 2000 with visitor arrivals up by 17.6 per cent compared to June 1999. This growth is driven by the phenomenal exposure generated in the lead up to the Olympic Games which is boosting Australia’s profile and popularity as a tourist destination in the United States," he said.

"The increased air capacity between the USA and Australia and the strong US economy also make Australia a very attractive tourist destination.

Mr Morse said the figures also showed double digit growth in visitor arrivals from Europe with a 12.7 per cent increase in June 2000 compared to June 1999.

"The United Kingdom continues to record strong growth with visitor arrivals up 11 per cent in June 2000 compared to June 1999," he said. "This follows a 10.7 per cent increase in visitor arrivals from the United Kingdom in the five months to May 2000 compared to the same time last year."

"Australia’s number one inbound market, New Zealand, has maintained its steady growth with 73,400 visitors in June 2000, an 8.5 per cent increase compared to June 1999.

"This is on top of a 14.9 per cent increase in visitor arrivals in the five months to May 2000 compared to the same time in 1999.

"Competitive airfares across the Tasman as well as Australia’s competitiveness compared to other short haul holiday destinations continues to drive more and more Kiwis to Australia.

"Arrivals from Asia were also up in June 2000 compared to June 1999 with a 7.8 per cent increase in visitor arrivals. This includes significant growth from China (up 33.9 per cent) and Korea (up 44.5 per cent) and a return to growth from Indonesia (up 27.6 per cent).

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