SYDNEY, Australia -- Travel agents and tour operators in North
America are selling more Australia packages and travel products
than ever as arrivals from the U.S. and Canada reached almost a
half-million (473,000) in 1998, up more than 13% from 1997,
according to the Australian Tourism Commission.
And the outlook for the next few years is even better, according
to Jackie Kelly, Australia's minister of sport and tourism.
Speaking at a news conference at the 1999 Australian Tourism
Exchange (ATE) at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre here
last month, Kelly said the next 12 months will be some of the most
exciting in Australia's history.
"The combined impact of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, record
promotional activity and use of Internet technology gives us the
opportunity to begin the new millennium [by] attracting more
overseas tourists than ever before and becoming one of the hottest
holiday destinations on Earth," said Kelly.
Kelly said that during the five days of ATE, Australia was
expecting to negotiate "more than $1 million [Australian] worth of
tourism business every working minute, and by the end of the week,
Australia's economy will have been boosted by around $2.5 billion
"No other event in Australia earns more foreign exchange in one
week than ATE." Tourism is now the giant of the Australian economy,
worth more than $39 billion (U.S.) annually and employing one out
of every eight Australian workers.
Organized and coordinated by the Australian Tourist Commission,
ATE is Australia's premier trade show. Attendance at this year's
ATE consisted of 700 international buyers from 48 countries, along
with 1,500 Australian tourism sellers.
North America was represented by a contingent of 96 buyers.
From January 1998 to January 1999, arrivals from the U.S.
registered 12 consecutive months of growth, highlighted by eight
months of double-digit growth.
The average stay of U.S. visitors to Australia is 25 nights, and
Americans are generally big spenders, with an average per person
expenditure of $1,448 (excluding international air fares and
The U.S. ranks third of 14 major markets in total annual
spending, behind Japan and the U.K. Australian tourism officials
are forecasting double-digit annual growth from North America to
continue. For 1999, arrivals from North America are projected at
492,000, with 414,000 of those from the U.S.
North American arrivals are expected to reach an all-time high
of 545,000 in 2000, with 462,000 of those from the U.S.