BY JAMES WILKINSON IN LOS ANGELES
Australian arrivals into the United States skyrocketed past the million mark in 2011, with 1,038,000 visiting America, a 40% jump on the 720,000 that visited in 2009, and there’s more to come.
The milestone has pushed Australia into the top 10 nations for visitors to the United States and the growth is paying significant dividends for operators across America, in particular number one city New York (53% of all Australian visitors in 2010) and state, California (55% of all visitors from Australia in 2010).
Australia has set arrival records for each of the last seven years and of the top 15 inbound nations, Australia has the third highest growth rate (15% in 2011 over 2010).
Visit USA Organisation Australia’s President Geoffrey Hutton said hitting the million mark was significant and further growth is on the radar.
“While it may take some time to hit two million, we’re still looking at growth of 11-12% annually over the next few years,” he exclusively told HM at International Pow Wow in Los Angeles today (Apr 25 AEST).
“We’ve only had one year where [Australian arrivals] didn’t grow significantly and we’re expecting growth to continue to be steady.”
He said Australian travellers were “firmly on the radar” for tourist boards, hotels, airlines and attractions across America not only because of the growth, but the length of stay and how many states they visit.
“Australians visit for an average of 25 days, making us one of the largest [nations for longest stays],” he said, noting the average international traveller stay in the US was 17 days.
Australians are also visiting an average of 2.5 states on each visit.
“People are going all over the United States now and visiting states such as Oregon, Montana and Wyoming,” Hutton said.
“Australian visitors to Dallas are also up by 90% since the new [Qantas] flights started,” he said.
Extra capacity from airlines and a high Australian Dollar is fuelling the boom, and according to New York hotelier Tom Travers from Hotel Beacon, it’s showing no signs of abating.
“Australians are number one for us,” he told HM at Pow Wow. “They have been our best travellers for the last four years, particularly on the back of the facilities we offer in our rooms, including kitchenettes, and will continue to be so for some time.
“Our one- and two-bedroom suites have full size kitchens as well and that suits the market well.
“Our Australian guests always say they love buying food from the Fairway Market across the street and being able to cook it in their room… this saves them a lot of money, instead of eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said.
Today (Apr 25), Hawaiian Airlines is upgrading Sydney-Honolulu flights to Airbus A330 aircraft, adding an extra 11,000 seats on the route and in June, flights launch from Honolulu to New York City.
“There’s another good option for Australians to go to New York,” Hutton said.
This year’s International Pow Wow in Los Angeles is the largest ever held and has attracted over 5000 delegates, exhibitors, media, wholesalers and conference organisers from around the world.
Flying to Los Angeles? Take the Island route and enjoy Hawaiian Airlines’ award-winning service and brand new cabins on board Airbus A330s, which will be operating on Sydney-Honolulu (and onto Los Angeles) flights from today, April 25. Visit www.hawaiianair.com.au