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 May 31, 2000
Australia To Push Into Continental Europe

 The Australian tourism industry will look to make a bigger push into Continental Europe to build on the great gains made in the German and United Kingdom tourist markets, Australian Tourist Commission (ATC) Deputy Managing Director, Bill Calderwood said today.

Speaking at the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE), the ATC's flagship trade event, Mr Calderwood said the challenge for the Australian tourism industry in Europe was to develop and strengthen Australia's smaller European inbound markets such as France, Italy, Switzerland and Nordic countries.

"The United Kingdom has maintained exceptional growth for the past two years increasing by 13 per cent in 1999 and 13.9 per cent in 1998 - taking the total number of visitors in 1999 to 528,431," Mr Calderwood said.

"Forecasts for the UK market remain strong for 2000 and the latest monthly data shows a 8.5 per cent increase in visitor arrivals in February 2000 compared to February 1999.

"The German market is also strengthening with 144, 509 visitor arrivals during 1999 representing a 13.4 per cent increase compared to the previous year which is the best result in this market since 1994.

"The United Kingdom and Germany represent around two thirds of inbound visitor arrivals from Europe and it is essential to broaden Australia's appeal in the region's smaller markets," Mr Calderwood said.

In 1999 the average visitor expenditure for visitors from the United Kingdom was $2,342 with overall expenditure in Australia totalling $1.19 billion. Average visitor expenditure for German tourists was $2,590 with overall expenditure in Australia totalling $362.6 million in 1999.

Mr Calderwood said the challenge for Australia is to clearly demonstrate to potential tourists in Continental Europe, such as France and Italy the relevance, value and benefit of coming to Australia.

"While the number of visitors from these countries are small, they are important in terms of their yield, length of stay and dispersal throughout Australia," Mr Calderwood said.

"Now more than ever Europe is an attractive, stable tourist market for Australia and the strength of the European currencies against the Australian dollar, coupled with low cost airfares means that Australia is now a very affordable destination."

Visitor arrivals from these markets increased in 1999 including France (up by 14.4 per cent to 49,132 visitors), Italy (up by 7.5 per cent to 51,434 visitors) and Switzerland (up by 11.8 per cent to 45,093 visitors).

ATC Regional Director for Europe, South Africa and Middle East, Andrew Richards said the Middle East, earmarked as an emerging market for Australia, grew significantly in 1999 with 52, 418 visitors to Australia in 1999, a 24.6 per cent increase on the previous year.

"The introduction of Emirate flights between Dubai and Sydney will help further development and growth of the Middle East market," Mr Richards said.

"South Africa is also performing well with more than 57,000 visitor arrivals to Australia in 1999," he said. "The ATC has ramped up its efforts in South Africa, with Brand Australia advertising introduced earlier this year, highlighting the importance of this market."

Mr Richards said the exposure generated by the Sydney Olympic Games this year would provide phenomenal exposure throughout Europe and other key markets.

"The challenge for the Australian tourism industry is to convert the increased coverage and awareness of Australia, provided by the Olympics into travel bookings," Mr Richards said.

"The 18 months following the Games is a critical time for the industry as we try to take tourism arrivals to Australia to a new platform."