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Falling Tourist Numbers as Dollar Spikes

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A rise in visitors from China and India has failed to buoy Australia’s tourism industry, with recent events in Japan blamed for an overall slump in overseas departures and arrivals. "The Japanese earthquake and tsunami have knocked one of Australia’s most important tourism markets, particularly in Queensland," said Federal Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson, in response to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). In March, overseas short-term visitor arrivals fell by 5.1 percent compared with the year before. There was some growth, however, as arrivals from China increased for the 14th consecutive month, up 16.7 percent. Ferguson said although traditional markets like the US, UK and Japan remain high-yielding for Australia, both Tourism Australia and the federal government have put funding elsewhere. "We’ll continue to aggressively market into China," he said. As more Australians chose to holiday at home, overseas short-term resident departures fell for the first time in 23 months. Both state and federal governments have contributed to a $12 million tourism recovery package, aimed at dispelling myths about the recent devastation in Queensland, which may explain the shift. "The fact is the majority of Queensland’s tourism regions have suffered minimal or no damage and the majority of those affected are now open and operating normally," said Jan Jarratt, Minister for Tourism in Queensland.

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