Queensland gears up for tourism recovery

Australian tourism authorities are urging Australians to stay home this year in the wake of the devastating floods and cyclones that have hit the country.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the country's tourism minister Martin Ferguson said that the biggest problem facing Queensland, one of the country's tourism hotspots, was making people aware that the state is still open for business.

"Contrary to what you might have seen on TV with the floods or the cyclone a lot of the industry is back at work," he told AAP.

"If you want to help Queensland ... don't go to Bali."

Ferguson's urge for Australians to holiday at home adds to an enormous international effort to win over foreign visitors to the state, with millions of dollars being pumped into marketing to raise awareness.

One famous name already adding her voice to the chorus is Oprah Winfrey, who toured the state last month as part of her "Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure," seen by millions of viewers in the US and Canada.

A huge marketing campaign has also been launched this week to increase tourism to the Whitsundays, a collection of islands home to the Great Barrier Reef and a renowned tourism destination, including competitive airfares and free nights in hotels.

Last year, 5.8 million international tourists visited Australia, a rise of 4.3 percent on 2009 and a new record for the country, driven by double-digit growth from Asian markets such as China, Korea, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia.

Neighboring New Zealand saw a similar Asia-driven rise in visitor numbers, up 2.7 percent to just over 2.5 million.

http://www.tq.com.au/

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