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VIC tourism becomes swine flu victim

VIC tourism becomes swine flu victim article image

Already struggling to recover from February bushfires, Victorian tourism has suffered another blow due to the spread of swine flu. Victoria has the highest incidence of A(H1N1) virus cases in Australia, which has adversely affected visitor numbers to its major tourist attractions such as Phillip Island and Ballarat's Sovereign Hill. Phillip Island recorded a fall of 40 percent in Chinese tourists following the first diagnosis of swine flu in May. Of the 700,000 visitors to Phillip Island, more than half were international tourists, 90,000 of whom came from China. "The problem is many potential visitors are not actually overly concerned about getting swine flu, but what they are worried about is being quarantined for a lengthy period of time if they do get it," said Mark Manteit, CEO of Phillip Island Nature Parks. Sovereign Hill has suffered a drop of 60-70 percent in Chinese tourist numbers, which had totalled around 60,000 a year. "Swine flu has just knocked China right off the radar in terms of inbound tourism," said Jeremy Johnson, CEO of Sovereign Hill. He says it is vital for the state and federal governments to issue safety messages about visiting the state.

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