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New figures confirm flat tourism performance for 2002

Despite a strong December 2002 Quarter, inbound tourism to Australia remains flat…

Despite a strong December 2002 Quarter, inbound tourism to Australia remains flat, ATC Managing Director, Ken Boundy said recently.

International arrivals to Australia increased by 10 per cent in the December 2002 quarter compared to the previous year. A total of 4.8 million international visitors arrived in Australia, down by 0.3 per cent for the yearend December 2002.

The industry has now suffered two years of flat performance, with visitor arrivals down by 0.3 per cent in the year end 2002 and down by two per cent in 2001, Mr Boundy said. Visitor arrivals for 2002 are still below the record 4.9 million visitors in 2000. This is the first time in more than two decades that inbound arrivals to Australia have been flat for two consecutive years, highlighting the challenging business environment for the sector.

The figures show that the market bore the impact of reduced consumer confidence at the start of 2002, however conditions improved during the year which led to a slight recovery in the global travel market, and subsequently arrivals to Australia. In addition to a slump in consumer confidence, arrivals in Australia were also impacted by the trend for international travellers to holiday closer to home for shorter periods.

There was mixed performance from key tourism markets with increases in arrivals from the UK (up 4 per cent), Japan (up 6 per cent) and China (up 20 per cent) during 2002, while visitor numbers from the USA, New Zealand and Singapore all declined by 3 per cent.

Mr Boundy added that the next six months for the industry would be tough with consumer confidence expected to soften due to ongoing economic and political uncertainty. This will impact on consumers` propensity to travel overseas, particularly to long-haul destinations.

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