Australia voted top holiday spot despite global slump

Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:49am EST
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Australia has been voted the most coveted destination by travelers in a global survey that also showed two-thirds of people were reviewing their holiday plans because of the global economic crisis.

Asia Pacific was named the number-one region for those intending to travel overseas this year and next in the survey, commissioned by credit card firm Visa and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and which polled over 5,500 people.

Nearly half picked Australia, which is expecting the number of foreign visitors to fall to their lowest level in two decades this year, as a place to visit, a likely boost for a multi-million dollar tourist campaign launched late last year.

Those surveyed voted Japan as the second most likely destination for their next holiday, followed by Hong Kong, which garnered 35 percent of votes.

"That Asia Pacific was named the leading global leisure travel region reinforces the vital role this industry fills in the regional economy," said Meranda Chan, a Visa country manager and PATA board director.

"While the global economic situation will impact tourism, it is unlikely to bring travel to a standstill. What our survey has shown is that travelers will be more creative in their selection of destinations," she said in a statement.

The survey was conducted last August in 11 key markets for Asia Pacific tourism -- Australia, China, Taiwan, France, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the United States and Britain -- and appears to bode well for an industry that has been hit by the global belt-tightening caused by the economic slowdown.

While most of the tourists to Asia-Pacific destinations were already living in the region, the survey showed that some 40 percent of Americans and 32 percent from France said they would visit in 2009 or 2010.   Continued...

<p>A ferry aproaches Sydney's central business district February 3, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>