Australia braces for ME tourist rush
Kuwait, April 27, 2009
With more than 100 direct flights per week to soon connect Australia to Middle Eastern cities, Tourism Australia (TA) is gearing up to welcome a record number of visitors from the region this year.
As part of its tourism campaign, TA kicked off a road show from Kuwait on Monday, which will later travel to Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Attending the road show are industry representatives from Tourism Victoria, Tourism New South Wales, Tourism Queensland, Gold Coast Tourism, Tourism Australia, Victoria’s Ski Fields, Tangalooma resort and JPT tours.
Australia had welcomed nearly 63,000 Gulf residents in 2008, a 21 per cent increase in the number of visitors last year as compared to 2007. Interestingly, almost two-thirds of the visitors (65 per cent) were residents of the UAE, the country that was best connected to Australia.
'UAE nationals made up 35 per cent of all visitors, while 35 per cent were from Australia, the UK and India – the top three overseas visiting nationalities resident in the GCC,' said Andrew Oldfield, Distribution development manager, TA.
“This year, we expect the number of tourists to grow at a higher pace because very soon there will be over a 100 direct flights connecting cities in the Middle East to Australian destinations, apart from the excellent connections offered by Malaysian Airlines, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific,” Oldfield noted.
Currently, Dubai’s Emirates airline operates 63 flights per week to Australia, which it will increase to 70 in winter. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways flies 21 times a week to Australia while Doha-based Qatar Airways has announced plans to start flights in winter.
Aiming to showcase the varied travel options available in Australia and introduce trade partners to each other, Tourism Australia also hopes to tell more GCC nationals how easy it is now to get an Australian visa.
'To keep up with the increasing interest from the region, the Australian government has progressively eased the application procedure for GCC nationals, creating online applications and making multi-entry visas standard,' Oldfield explained.
“All visas issued to GCC nationals are multi-entry, given for a period of two years and are valid for stays up to three months at a time,” he added.
Moreover, visas are label-free, which eliminates the need to physically part with passports. GCC residents planning to visit Australia should apply online www.immi.gov.au and provide for at least three weeks’ processing time before their trip, Oldfield said.-TradeArabia News Service