Tourism swells to tune of $5bn

Tourism swells to tune of $5bn, by Angela Saurine - 17th March 2008
(Credit: The Daily Telegraph)

While the rising cost of living hasn't escaped residents, cashed-up overseas tourists are spending up big in Sydney.

Foreign holidaymakers spent $4.8 billion in Sydney last year, up 10 per cent on 2006, according to the latest International Visitor Survey.

The city also received more than half of all overseas tourists coming to Australia, with 2.7 million visitors.

Overall Sydney hosted 48.6 million nights - almost a third of all nights international guests spent in Australia.

Most visitors came from the UK, followed by New Zealand, the US, China and Japan.

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The Tourism Australia survey revealed the 19.6 million holiday nights spent in NSW was an increase of 7 per cent compared to the previous year - larger than the national increase of 4.8 per cent.

While a separate report released last week showed domestic tourism to Sydney was down, the city is still the most visited destination in the country for overnight domestic visitors, bringing $3.4 million to the local economy last year.

Tourism Minister Matt Brown said Sydney's mix of beauty, sophistication and relaxed vibe made it attractive to outsiders.

"Sydney is a global city in the eyes of the world - it is sophisticated with an edge," he said. "It is the gateway to Australia."

Mr Brown said Tourism NSW's marketing push focused on the city's world-class dining, arts and cultural scene and international style.

He said surf tourism was one of the Sydney's fastest-growing attractions, fuelled by the popularity of surf schools.

"Surfing helps them connect with the people and feel like a local," he said.

Bondi Beach-based Let's Go Surfing school's general manager Craig Wachholz said there had been a steady increase in surf tourism in the past couple of years.

"I think it's a misconception that backpackers don't have a lot of money to spend - they don't have the disposable income of a CEO but they have come a long way and saved and planned to enjoy themselves," Mr Wachholz said.

"Visitors from the UK and Europe get a lot more bang for their buck because of the exchange rate. Families are an increasing market.

"We also did some lessons today for a group of Americans who are here for a conference and they put some time aside to do some surfing.

"If Australians go to England they fly into London, if they come to Australia they fly into Sydney and Bondi's on top of their list - it's one of the most recognised beaches in the world."


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Bondi Beach