Australian tourism industry optimistic in face of global recession

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The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) said on Friday that the economic crisis has led to a sharp spike in the number of backpackers heading to Australia shores.

“The backpacker market is absolutely booming, we’ve seen visa applications up by 20 percent out of Germany and Britain alone, and those figures are translating into business” ATEC managing director Matt Hingerty told reporters.

The number of tourists coming to Australia has been predicted to fall by at least 250,000, representing a loss of around 1 billion Aust dollars (0.71 billion U.S. dollars), but Hingerty said the industry is well-equipped to bounce back.

“The industry’s been through SARS, September 11, the collapse of Ansett, and the Bali Bombings, and we have learned and got better at recovery every time,” Hingerty said.

The government has launched an 8.5 million Aust dollars (6 million U.S. dollars) grant program to support tourism innovation.

Tourists also seem to be taking advantage of the heavily discounted airfares, and the 900 Australian dollars (642 U.S. dollars) federal government cash bonus, Hingerty said.

Around 300 tourism operators will meet in Darwin this coming week to discuss the state of the industry at the annual ATEC conference.

The ATEC conference will be held on April 29-30 in Australia.

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