Australian authorities plot tourism recovery

Australian tourism authorities are urging Australians to stay home this year in the wake of the floods, cyclones and bushfires that have devastated the country.

The country’s tourism minister Martin Ferguson said that the biggest problem facing Queensland was sending out the message that the state is still open for business.

“Contrary to what you might have seen on TV with the floods or the cyclone a lot of the industry is back at work,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “If you want to help Queensland ... don’t go to Bali.”

His words come as Australia embarks on a multi-million dollar global campaigner to lure both domestic and international travellers back.

This includes a new campaign to the Whitsundays Islands in Queensland, including cut-price airfares and free nights in hotels.

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Joining the campaign has been Oprah Winfrey, who toured the state last month as part of her “Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventureā€ seen by millions of viewers in the US and Canada.

Last year, 5.8 million international tourists visited Australia, a rise of 4.3 percent on 2009 and a new record for the country, driven by double-digit growth from Asian markets such as China, Korea, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia.

New Zealand also enjoyed a similar Asia-driven rise in visitor numbers, up 2.7 percent to just over 2.5 million.