Big increase in tourists to Oz
Visitor numbers from the GCC to Australia during this summer were up 21 per cent on last year, and the number from MENA was up 18 per cent, according to Andrew Oldfield, distribution development manager, Gulf countries, for Tourism Australia (TA).
And for 2008, he said: “We hope to continue the growth at a similar rate, however we are limited by the air capacity into Australia, obviously we depend a lot on all the airlines that depart from the GCC, I am sure with arrivals of the new A380’s later in the year we will see a lot more capacity.”
TA will be opening a new tourist office in India “very soon”.
TA will next year spend more time on educating the industry about Australia’s diversity in both city escapes and countryside retreats within easy reach of the cities. It will take the annual “Yinala” event (a forum devised especially for travel professionals from the GCC to experience Australia for themselves), to Perth, a less popular city for Arab visitors.
Tourists from the Middle East find Australia’s general friendliness, including welcoming immigration officials, plus as its food, family activities, weather and natural beauty as prime reasons for returning here.
Oldfield said that travel agents and tour operators in the ME region would benefit from the TA’s online training programme “Aussie specialist”.
“This programme can help all agents learn so much about Australia; it will help to build bigger and longer itineraries for their clients,” he said. “We also have the online Visa application facility where agencies can apply online on behalf of their clients making the visa process smooth and streamlined.”
He stressed that it was important for travel agents to remember that every non-Australian wanting to visit the country needs a visa and that all travel agents should apply through VFS ( www.vfs.ae) or at www.immi.gov.au.