Our dol­lar is roar­ing as Hong Kong cel­e­brates Chi­nese new year

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

Youdon’t need to wear gold­hooped ear­rings and change your name to Mys­tic Maria to work out the travel trends for 2012. Just put aside that crys­tal ball and look at the buoy­ancy of the Aus­tralian dol­lar.

We will be jet­ting off to any­where our money has buy­ing power, and that means great swaths of the globe, from neigh­bours New Zealand and Fiji and coun­tries where the euro reigns to the US and desti­na­tions where cur­rency is pegged to its green­back, such as Hong Kong.

I am just back from Hong Kong, in fact, and, call me old­fash­ioned or eas­ily pleased, but what a thrill to see our cur­rency out­per­form­ing the US dol­lar on those il­lu­mi­nated no­tice­boards at for­eign ex­change booths. Even more pleas­ing is to race into the glossy stores along Kowloon’s Nathan and Can­ton roads and be po­litely asked if you’d pre­fer to pay by credit card in Aus­tralian or Hong Kong dol­lars. Take that, Visa and Mastercard ex­change con­ver­sion folk, with your pesky ex­tra charges.

Hong Kong is a city of do­ers, en­ergy and pur­pose seems to rise like steam here, and ev­ery­thing was look­ing shiny and golden last week in prepa­ra­tion for Chi­nese new year and the pro­pi­tious ar­rival of the dragon, the most im­por­tant zo­diac sign. And 2012 will mean more Aus­tralians head­ing there as Qan­tas has just started A380 ser­vices on se­lected days from Syd­ney. Pas­sen­gers on the in­au­gu­ral flight re­ceived a for­tune cookie with the oblig­a­tory mes­sage of en­cour­age­ment in­side. Mine sug­gested much health and hap­pi­ness, as is the jolly norm.

Mean­while, the for­tune teller I con­sulted in the back­blocks of Kowloon looked me up and down, checked my shop­ping, which in­cluded a new overnight bag, and pre­dicted I would have a very good time in the dragon’s spe­cial year. In fact, he said, I would go far.

It’s a generic pre­dic­tion for most of us in 2012 and not good news for Australia’s do­mes­tic tourism in­dus­try, but such is our destiny, at least for now.

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