Aussies kept travelling post-Bali

Australians changed their travel plans in the wake of the Bali bombings but did not stop travelling overseas, according to a new traveller survey. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics overseas arrivals and departures survey showed the number of people leaving Australia in November rose 10.4 per cent (24,000 people) compared with the same month in 2001. The growth was significant even taking into account the influence of September 11 on 2001 departure figures, Tourism Task Force deputy chief executive Stephen Albin said. "It has come through loud and clear that Australians did in fact change their travel plans following Bali, but they didn't stop travelling overseas," Albin said. He said Fiji, New Zealand, Vietnam, China and the US were particularly popular destinations but Indonesia and Singapore both lost ground. Holiday traffic numbers remained virtually static compared with the same period in 2001, but VFR (visiting friends & relatives) numbers were up by 11,300, those for business travel by 7,800 and those for conference travel by 2,000. Inbound tourism was expecting another "soft" year as a result of uncertainty in the global tourism market, according to Albin, who said Australians would continue to travel overseas but would choose destinations "closer to home". He said a key challenge for the inbound industry in 2003 would be to encourage more Australians to travel domestically while luring more international tourists to the country. "We need to look at recapturing some of the outbound market to convert this into increased domestic tourism," Albin said.

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