Tourists walk on raised platforms above flood waters during a period of seasonal high water and on the first day of carnival, in Venice February 1, 2015.
Tourists walk on raised platforms above flood waters during a period of seasonal high water and on the first day of carnival, in Venice February 1, 2015. Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

The weak Australian dollar has made many Australian travellers very happy. According to a new survey, the top three destinations that Australians love to frequent are Greece, Spain and Italy.

The findings of the survey, conducted by Webjet Australia, were premised on the growth of bookings from January to August 2014 and January to August 2015.

Greece emerged as on the top with a 162 percent year-over-year increase in bookings, while Spain and Italy followed with 107 percent and 91 percent increases to become the preferred destinations by Aussies, reports Travel Monitor.

Cost efficiency

With improved connections worldwide from ports like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it is now much easier, direct and cost-effective for Australians to travel to Europe’s less travelled destinations,” said Webjet Australia chief executive John Guscic.

In Europe, Turkey and Switzerland are also top destinations for Aussies, in addition to Sweden, Ireland, Denmark and the Czech Republic. One surprise destination has been Cambodia, which emerged as a preferred Aussie destination, with a 63 percent growth in year-on-year bookings. According to Webjet, it is an example of Aussies looking for something starkly different from the conventional destinations such as Bali and Thailand.

Fiji woos

Meanwhile, Australia’s improved ties with Fiji opened up another big tourism market for Aussies. In mid-October, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama visited Australia and sought to put a decade of diplomatic tensions behind. The animosity was a fall out of the 2006 coup. He also addressed the conference of Australia Fiji Business Council in Sydney. Australia is Fiji's biggest foreign investor, aid donor and source of tourists.

Fiji’s Tourism Minister Faiyaz Koya told The Australian Financial Review that Fiji has a new focus on attracting more tourists from Australia.

“We will not be taking our emphasis away from our big traditional tourist market. We simply will not cannibalise what we have,” he said.

During the business council meeting, Fiji officials had outlined plans to double their share of tourism by seeking to increase spending by Australians from the existing three to four percent. Fiji had received less than 35,000 Aussie tourists in 2014.

“Certainly the weakening of the Australian dollar means more Australian travellers are focused on where to travel," Virgin Australia chief commercial officer Judith Crompton said.

But she cautioned the Fiji government and its travel industry, saying that Indonesia and Thailand are also hyper competitive as destinations and Fiji should think well before adding any new tax on its tourism sector. One third of Fiji's GDP comes from tourism.

“It's an industry we need to make sure we manage better,” said Tourism Fiji chairman Truman Bradley. He said efforts were being made to develop the online marketing and booking capabilities of Fiji's tourist operators for capturing more visitor revenue.

“We need better digital competence in Fiji so more of the bookings can be done locally,” Bradley noted.

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