Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)
The Australian dollar may be on a downward spiral but it hasn’t hurt the number of Aussies flying to the US.
Los Angeles officials announced on Monday there had been a six per cent rise in the number of Aussies visiting the city in 2015, ranking Australia fourth behind Mexico, China and Canada respectively.
The Australian dollar dropped below 70 US cents in recent days, continuing its fall of the past two years and making a holiday in the US more expensive for travellers.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and tourism officials remain optimistic about the number of Aussies flying to LA, the main US hub for airlines flying between the two countries.
Mr Garcetti agreed however that the weak Aussie dollar could reduce the number of Australian tourists to LA.
“Obviously commodity prices have dropped and that impacts the (Australian) economy, but the ties are also quite strong,” he told AAP.
“For Aussies, to go anywhere in the world when they come to the east they fly through Los Angeles, so this has been a natural hub.
“Those ties are so critical to us.”
LA Tourism & Convention Board president Ernest Wooden Jr said there are plans top open an office in Sydney or Melbourne.
The board will also lead a sales mission to Australia later this year to talk to travel agents and travel operators.
Just two years ago, Australia was the No. 3 market for LA, trailing US neighbours Mexico and Canada.
Despite Australian visitor numbers growing steadily, LA’s Chinese market has exploded.
China leapfrogged Australia in 2014 and in 2015 they overtook Canada to be LA’s second biggest market with a 13.3 per cent hike to 779,000 visitors.
Mexico had 1.7 million in 2015, third-place Canada had 736,000, then Australia with 424,000, the UK (342,000) and Japan (319,000).
South Korea, in equal seventh place with France, is LA’s next booming market with the Asian nation’s visitors rising 11 per cent in 2015.
Mr Wooden said he expects the growth in Australian visitors to LA to continue.
“The Australian economy is leading us to believe that it is strong and the bucket list destination for many of our Aussie friends continues to be Los Angeles,” Mr Wooden said.