Sydney Olympics spurs growth of Web sites for agents

SYDNEY -- With the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games fast approaching -- Sept. 15 through Oct. 1 -- a number of new Web sites have emerged carrying Australia travel information.

The newest resource exclusively for travel agents is the Australian Tourist Commission's site at www.travelagent.australia.com.

One new Web site, www.destinationqueensland.com, features information about Queensland. The site is specifically for North American agents selling travel to Australia.

According to the ATC, the site has more than 10,000 pages of information on Australia. It also has a search engine for travel-related topics.

Through the Web site, agents can subscribe to a new electronic magazine called "What's Up Down Under" and sign up to receive e-mail bulletins on air fare sales, as well as deals on hotel and tour packages. Brochures are available to order from the site.

Other features of the site include tips on how to become an Australia specialist, Australia events, links to other Web sites and information on how to get an Olympic Games selling kit.

In late 1999, the ATC created a Web-based travel agent specialist program for the Melbourne and Victoria areas.

Agents first must become a specialist on Australia through the ATC, after which they receive an individualized Web site address to access the information needed to complete the training to become a specialist on Melbourne and Victoria.

Another new Web site on Australia travel has information on the Queensland area and the Great Barrier Reef at www.destinationqueensland.com.

This site also has a dedicated area for travel agents.

Run by Tourism Queensland, the site has a Where to Go section, with information on each geographical area of Queensland; a What to Do section on things to do, such as shopping, eating, tours and attractions, and a section called How to Do It, with maps showing where to stay, weather and other information.

Australia Travel Search, at www.australiatravelsearch.com.au, is another new site.

This site lists other Web sites on Australian travel. For example, it lists 77 Web sites of travel agents, specialists and visitor centers; 1,528 sites on accommodations across the country, and 140 Web sites on attractions and other travel categories.

It also has its own information for visitors, including a list of embassies, visa information, emergency services, health and safety, a currency converter and more.

One more new Web site that relates to Australia travel is www.citysearch.com.au, a venture between a company called LookSmart and CitySearch Australia.

The site is a business directory for all of Australia, with an emphasis on travel.

The site is broken down by city, but also has general categories such as What's On, Food and Wine, Weekends Away and a Visitor's Guide.

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