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Record number of tourists flock to Australia's capital city Canberra

by September 1, 2016 General

CANBERRA, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Australia’s capital city Canberra experienced a record number of tourists in 2015-16, and its chief minister expects that figure to rise again once international flights begin to serve the city.

New figures from Tourism Research Australia found that 203,000 international visitors came to Canberra, a small inland city an hour flight from Sydney, up more than 13 percent on the previous 12-month period.

The Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) Chief Minister Andrew Barr said China is the biggest international tourism market to Canberra, and added that when Singapore Airlines begins its maiden international service to the city, the number is expected to grow.

“China continues to be the number one source market, and it recorded a 38.5 percent increase,” Barr told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Thursday.

“But really encouragingly for us, is the Singapore market was up by 41 percent.

“Encouragingly also, the New Zealand market is also up 15 percent.”

Barr said not only were visitors flocking to Australia’s capital, which boasts the nation’s biggest war memorial as well as engaging art galleries and museums, they were also spending money in record amounts.

“It’s encouraging because those 203,000 visitors have spent 317 million U.S. dollars in our economy and that spend is up 16.4 percent,” he said.

“(It means) more visitors are spending more money in Canberra’s economy and this flows through into more jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector.”

Barr said that Canberra, not traditionally associated with tourists or tourism, hopes to grow visitor numbers consistently over the next five years to become a destination for both domestic and international tourists alike.

Our expectation is that we will be able to grow tourism’s contribution to the ACT economy up to 1.9 billion U.S. dollars by 2020,” he said.