x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

More flights, visitors and more cash

The number of UAE tourists to Australia has almost tripled in the last decade, as flights have increased.

The number of tourists from the UAE to Australia has almost tripled in the past 10 years as Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline have added more flights to the country.

Arrivals from the UAE increased from 26,500 in 2000 to 75,600 last year, with the figures including nationals and expatriate residents, data from Australia's tourism board show. That represents an increase of more than 185 per cent.

Meanwhile, the average visitor spending of UAE tourists in Australia is A$6,440 (Dh25,483) versus a global average of A$4,850.

"The increase in flights have been tremendous from the Gulf region, in particular Dubai and Abu Dhabi," said Stephen Cheah, the partnership, distribution and business events manager for south and South East Asia and the Gulf at Tourism Australia. He said Sydney received the most flights from the region, followed by Melbourne.

"Most of the travellers flying into Australia on the UAE carriers are from Europe," said Mr Cheah. "The UAE carriers provide convenient connections from many secondary European cities providing a one-stop flight to Australia without going through a European hub city like London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam."

Bilateral agreements between the UAE and Australia in 2007 enabled the increases in capacity over the past few years, at a time when some airlines were reducing services.

The Gold Coast, which boasts the Palazzo Versace resort, is known as a popular Australian holiday spot for tourists from the Gulf.

"The [UAE] locals tend to go to the eastern part of Australia with Gold Coast being the main destination followed by Sydney and Melbourne," said Mr Cheah.

"The easy access to Australian nature and the large open spaces are a great draw. However, the locals tend to travel only during the UAE summer season. The European expats tend to be more adventurous and will explore other parts of the country including other secondary cities and areas and the Outback like the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia."

However, floods in Queensland resulted in a 6 per cent decline in international arrivals to the Gold Coast in the first quarter of this year to 783,000, while visitor spending fell 13 per cent to A$886 million, according to the tourism authorities. A stronger dollar now means visitors' spending power is lower.

rbundhun@thenational.ae