Chinese lead New South Wale's tourism recovery

Chinese holidaymakers are rescuing NSW from its tourism slump as the state attracts visitors previously held back by recession.

Tourism Research Australia (TRA) says Chinese tourists were the most common visitors to NSW, amounting to 15.4 per cent of total travellers, followed by people from the United Kingdom at 10.9 per cent.

The managing director of the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), Matthew Hingerty, says the figures show the need to capitalise on the Chinese market.

‘Not only do the Chinese want our coal and iron but our sun, our smiles, our sights, our wine, food, our education services and our attractions,’ he said in a statement on Wednesday.

TRA’s International Visitor Survey (IVS) shows NSW received more than 2.8 million international visitors in the year ending September 2010, up almost seven per cent from the same time last year.

The global economic downturn saw tourist numbers fall from a high of 2.86 million in 2007 to 2.8 million in 2008 and only 2.66 million in 2009.

‘The IVS shows that China is now the number one nation in terms of critical measures of economic value,’ Mr Hingerty said in a statement to AAP.

The figures show most international visitors to NSW spent most their time in Sydney, with 84 per cent saying they preferred the harbour city as their dominant place of stay while on holiday.

More than half came to NSW for a holiday and about a quarter said they came to visit friends and relatives, with the rest coming on business or for education.

The greatest number of tourists were from New Zealand, with 382,000, followed by the UK at 359,000 and China with 358,000.

Tourists from the Middle East and North Africa had the highest proportion of nights in regional NSW, with 37 per cent preferring outer areas of the state, followed by visitors from Switzerland (31.4 per cent) and New Zealanders (27.3 per cent).

It is estimated that international visitors spent $5.9 billion, or an average $2,043 each in NSW.

The IVS, conducted by the Federal Tourism Department, samples 40,000 departing, short-term international travellers over the age of 15.

By Sarah Malik

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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