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Friday, November 5, 2010

Overrated and expensive: Young travellers give up on Australia


AUSTRALIA is "overrated" and "expensive" according to young travellers and at risk of losing its "dream destination" reputation, a tourism expert has warned.
Gapyear.com founder Tom Griffiths said backpackers were using social networking sites and online forums to spread negative messages about Australia and encouraging travellers to go to New Zealand or South-East Asia instead.
He told yesterday's Adventure and Backpacker Industry Conference in Sydney the east coast of Australia was becoming "the new Ibiza" - referring to the sex and party island off the coast of Spain popular with British "lager louts".
"It's a nasty product to be likened to," he said.
He said many young Britons had dreamed for years of visiting Australia after seeing TV shows such as Home and Away and Neighbours, but were often underwhelmed by their experiences when they arrived.
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Travellers were now writing comments on the internet such as "East coast Australia was fun but it's very overrated and expensive" and "I'm bored of Oz, I want to go back to South-East Asia".
Others said it "quickly loses its appeal" and they were "underwhelmed".
But Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler told the conference the fact Australia got so many repeat visitors showed it was doing something right.
"We have a diverse country and a diverse range of things to do," he said.
"But a lot of people come here and . . . don't even get to the Outback."
Backpackers make up 11 per cent of all international visitors to Australia and spend $3.4 billion a year.

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