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Australia voted most popular holiday spot — India ranked `most optimistic market in Asia'

Our Bureau

Mumbai , July 23

AUSTRALIA and its cities have ranked number one in another round of international surveys.

The AC Nielsen Asia Pacific Consumer Confidence Survey places Australia among the region's most popular holiday destinations, followed by the US and Europe, while the US Travel and Leisure magazine's annual World's Best readers survey has voted Sydney the top city destination.

According to a statement from Tourism Australia, AC Nielsen's survey generally found consumer confidence in Asia looking positive and dramatically rebounding from last year's SARS setback.

For the second time running, India ranked as the most optimistic market in Asia with 86 per cent of those surveyed believing their local economy had improved in the past six months.

In Hong Kong, 70 per cent were similarly positive, ranking Hong Kong the second most upbeat market in Asia, up 12 points from 58 per cent in the last survey.

The positive mood from India is being felt by Australia with number of visitors from India up resulting in a seven per cent growth up to year-ended May 2004 compared with May 2003.

Growth and interest from the India market is expected to get a boost in the next six to 12 months with the launch of Qantas' direct flight from Mumbai to Sydney, the statement said.

The Tourism Australia's Executive General Manager, Eastern Hemisphere, Mr Greig McAllan, said: "Australia and Australia's cosmopolitan cities consistently register top of the pile in global surveys of the world's most desired destinations.

The combination of natural beauty in close proximity to vibrant international cities makes Australia a superb destination for travellers from Asia and across the globe."

Conducted in May 2004, the online study by AC Neilsen surveyed 9,485 consumers in 13 Asian markets, namely, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

An average of 47 per cent of consumers across all Asian markets said they felt their country's economy had improved over the last six months, a 4-percentage point increase since the last poll in October 2003.

In the survey, Singapore ranks third, not only with the 67 per cent of Singaporeans who expected a recovery in the first half of 2004, but also a remarkable 30-point increase in the number of optimistic Singaporeans compared to the last study.

Looking ahead, a regional average of 56 per cent of Asians felt things would improve further - a slight increase over the last survey - with fewer people feeling things would deteriorate (15 per cent in '04 versus 17 per cent in '03).

Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea and Japan, while not ranked at the top, registered the greatest increase in confidence levels, ranging between 8 and 16 percentage points.

Travel and Leisure magazine's annual World's Best readers' survey voted Sydney the top city destination in the world with Australia ranked the most favoured destination for Asia-Pacific tourists.

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