Australia sees rise in int'l, U.S. visitors

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CANBERRA, Australia -- An increase of 6.3% in international arrivals to Australia in February marked the sixth consecutive monthly rise, according to Joe Hockey, the Australian federal government minister for small business and tourism.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' preliminary figures for February 2004 over February 2003 showed U.S. travel to Australia was up 4%.

Indigenous and nature-based tourism are consistently rated as some of the main reasons tourists visit Australia, according to Hockey, and the government is directing about $3 million in funding to these areas, he said.

The Australian government also announced increases in the "near future" in airline capacity between Australia and the U.S. as well as China, India and Korea, Hockey added.

"So far this year, the Australian Tourist Commission has launched more than 30 campaigns across the U.S., U.K., continental European, Asian and Japanese markets. These campaigns are helping to lift interest in traveling to Australia and are bolstering tourism numbers," he said.

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