UAE tourist traffic to Australia growing
Australia has been one of the fastest growing destinations over the past few years for UAE travellers."The Australian State of Victoria alone has seen a steady 16 per cent increase in the number of arrivals from the UAE during the period from 1994 to 1999 and it continues to grow," Victoria's tourism minister, John Pandazopoulos, told TTN. The number of international arrivals is expected to total 2.4 million by the year 2010. The minister was on a short visit to the UAE recently and held meetings with members of the travel industry and officials of Emirates Airlines. "We share a special relationship with Emirates Airlines which has daily services to Melbourne and is looking for opportunities in the rest of the country. Soon we will see a big reduction in flying hours to Australia when Emirates inducts long-range aircraft into its fleet which would make direct Dubai-Melbourne flights possible," he said. Over 25,000 visitors from the Gulf countries visit Australia annually. Of this, the UAE is the biggest market accounting for 10,000 visitors. "Last year Melbourne was rated by the International Congress and Conventions as the second busiest international convention city in the world," said Pandazopoulos. "Melbourne is also the cultural as well as the sporting capital of Australia and Emirates is also a major sponsor of Victorian sporting events. "We understand the needs of Arab travellers and the city can provide all that they are looking for - accommodation for big families, halal food and prayer areas. Melbourne has a large Islamic community with over 100,000 Arabic speakers." A Victorian Government Business Office was established in Dubai in 1997 to promote trade and tourism in the Middle East.