The Courier-Mail

BANKING ON THE YANKS Tourism riding high on the greenback

- EXCLUSIVE ANNA CALDWELL

TOURISM bosses are luring cashed-up Americans to Queensland by offering Australian holidays as a high-end alternativ­e to luxury African safaris.

In a bid to capitalise on the greenback’s strength against the Australian dollar and the recovery of the US economy, Tourism Australia is targeting a new generation of wealthy Americans who is willing to spend big on accommodat­ion, high-end dining, and landscape experience­s such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal Australia is on the cusp of a boom in American visitors, as the US economy bounces back and the Aussie dollar falls.

In June, US arrival numbers were up almost 20 per cent on June 2014, with 47,000 arrivals.

The news comes as Tourism Australia boss John O’Sullivan spends a week in the US meeting with the world’s largest network of luxury travel agents, Virtuoso, to promote Australian highend experience­s.

Mr O’Sullivan said the strategy was to target “high yield” travellers in North America – that includes the private jet market and others willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on Great Barrier Reef-style experience­s.

“They are high-yielding visitors and our strategy is about expenditur­e,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said Australia was selling experience­s at natural assets such as the Reef to compete with luxurious African safaris for wealthy American travellers.

“We don’t have the same big five they do but we have our own wildlife and coastal experience­s,” he said.

WE’VE TAKEN THE REEF FOR GRANTED IN THE PAST FEW

YEARS John O’Sullivan

“Things like charter boat operators out of Port Douglas, where you get a high-end chef on the boat to cook the fish you’ve just caught, it’s about feeling and experienci­ng our landscape,” Mr Sullivan said.

In the 12 months to March, American visitors spent $3 billion in Australia.

Americans spent an average of $236 a head a night to be the highest spending nationalit­y.

That’s well above UK visitors at $135 a night, Chinese at $179 a night and New Zealanders at $161.

The sales pitch to the US focuses on luxury accommodat­ion, such as at Qualia on

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