Australia's Tourism Industry

Australia is one of the most well-known and popular tourist destinations in the world. For many Britons, Australia is a distant and exotic travel location. The island-continent of Australia was once a British colony and is even today a part of the Commonwealth. British tourists make up a significant part of Australia's overall tourism economy and each year, more Britons are choosing to visit the land "down under".

Australian Tourism Statistics

Australia's tourist industry is one of the strongest in the country and makes up 2.5% of the nation's GDP, with a revenue of about A$35 billion (£21 billion). Interestingly, over 70% of Australia's tourists are actually from Australia. Both the large distances within the country and major marketing campaigns by the Australian Tourist Industry and Government have succeeded in convincing many Australians to spend their vacation time at home. Some 6 million people arrive on tourist visas every year in Australia and over half a million people are employed by the Australian Tourist Industry.

Popular Australian Destinations and Attractions

For tourists, the most popular destinations in Australia are the eastern cities on the coast - Sydney, Melbourne and the surrounding settlements. The Gold Coast (the Pacific Coast of Queensland which stretches from Brisbane up to Cairns in the north) is a very important tourist area which attracts millions of international and domestic visitors every year. Australia is home to several natural wonders - the Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest and most expansive coral reef in the world, graces the Gold Coast; while Uluru (formerly known as Ayer's Rock), throbs at the heart of Australia, attracting hundreds of thousands of mountaineers and hikers annually.

Other great selling points of Australia's tourist attractions are the island-state of Tasmania with its unique forests, mountains and climate, the Australian flora and fauna (which evolved separately from other animal species for millions of years, creating iconic and strange wildlife such as the kangaroo, koala and dingo) and the great deserts of central and west Australia.

Australian cities are also famous for their major attractions and highlights. In Sydney, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo and Bondi Beach attract millions of visitors per year. In Melbourne, often referred to as the cultural capital of Australia, the Arts Centre, South Bank and sporting stadiums and carnival parks attract many tourists.

Outside the cities, the Australian countryside is also filled with interesting tourist attractions. North of Melbourne, Ballarat is a historic town that shows visitors what Australia's Gold Rush in the 1800s was like. In the hinterlands of Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges, Wilson's Promontory, the Murray River Wine Valley, the Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island offer unique attractions in the realm of geology, geography, wildlife, history and wine culture.

Australian Culture

Since European colonisation, Australian culture has been a crossroads of trade, commerce, arts and science. Australian culture draws from indigenous influences, British and European immigration and traditions and more recent Asian economic and cultural influences. Tourists that visit Australia often come away with the impression that Australians are laid back, friendly, funny, very open-minded and multicultural. This is in character with Australia's position as an economic and cultural hub and powerhouse in the Asia-Pacific region.

Types of Holidays Available in Australia

Backpacking holidays - These are an ongoing and important part of Australia's tourism economy. Young people between the ages of 18-30 from nations all over the world (including Britain) are invited to travel and work across Australia. Many British students take their gap year in Australian camps, schools, cultural locations and other workplaces as they mix travel, work and entertainment.

Sporting events - Australia is often home to many sporting events and many tourists visit to take part in these. The 2000 Olympics and the 2003 Rugby World Cup were both held in Australia. Cricket, Australian League Football, surfing and even skiing are important to Australians and each year many sporting events are hosted in sites across the country.

Cultural festivals - Melbourne is host to many operas, theatre productions, museum exhibitions and film festivals, while Sydney is famous for its annual Mardi Gras. Many other Australian cities also host flower festivals, carnivals, musical events and trade shows.

Business tourism - This is also an important reason why many people visit Australia. Trade shows, exhibitions and fairs are hosted in many Australian cities and combined with weekend or week-long package tours to show visiting businesspeople the local sights.

Resort packages and tours - Australia also has many resorts located all over the country which offer combined air/accommodation packages for international and domestic guests. Tour operators are often working with these package providers so that visitors are able to see city sights, the countryside and even the bushland which Australia is famous for.

The Australian Tourism Industry is most likely expected to grow over the next few decades, especially as the Asian economy continues to expand.