Tourists cash in on sliding Aussie dollar

OVERSEAS tourists and Australia's $24 billion tourism industry stand to gain most from this week's collapse in the value of the Australian dollar.

As the Aussie dollar traded at a low of US70.90 cents yesterday, Northern Rivers Tourism Chief Executive Russell Mills said the depressed tourism industry was hopeful of a turnaround, despite the current global economic crisis.

The slide in the dollar has already given overseas tourists visiting the North Coast an unexpected increase in their spending power, which has allowed visitors like Peter Mustelin, from Finland, to spend that little extra during his eight-week stay.
“I have already noticed a difference and I'm not feeling guilty about spending money I have not budgeted for,” he said.

Mr Mustelin, who has been staying with friends at Suffolk Park, has travelled from the Gold Coast to Byron Bay in the past two weeks.

“I have just decided to rent a car for a week to go on a road trip to Sydney. I was able to do this because of the dollar's fall,” Mr Mustelin said.

Mr Mills said exchange rate fluctuations would not have an immediate effect in attracting tourists, as visitors usually booked flights around three months in advance.

“However, it will have an immediate impact for the industry in that those tourists already here have more disposable cash to spend,” Mr Mills said.

“Tourists on the North Coast now have that extra cash to do activities and visit attractions they may not have ordinarily done.”

Mr Mills said the North Coast's tourism industry had suffered in the past year due to economic factors, interest rates, fuel prices and the bad weather.

“Australia ranks well in the Western world for great value, so I have no doubt the number of visitors coming here will improve,” he said.

Tourism Australia estimates about 5.6 million overseas tourists have visited Australia already this year.

It forecasts that number will grow to 8.7 million by 2017, although global economic uncertainty can affect these figures.

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