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Chinese tourists visiting Australia drop by 80%
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Tourist visa applications from China have dropped by up to 80 percent during the past three months, a leading newspaper The Australian reports on Monday.

Chinese visitor numbers were down as much as 80 percent over the past three months after concerns over A/H1N1 flu and the global recession. In June, the numbers were down by 21 percent compared with the same period in 2008.

Incoming tourist applications from China - Australia's fastest- growing tourism market - have collapsed by up to 80 percent over the past three months, putting in doubt a forecast jump in numbers from the country of 6.4 percent this year, the report said.

In June, arrivals of total visitors from across northeast Asia fell 26 percent.

Last year, 356,000 Chinese visited Australia, spending a total of 2.2 billion Australian dollars (1.8 billion U.S. dollars). In the four months to April this year, just prior to the first confirmed case of A/H1N1 influenza in Sydney, 166,300 Chinese visitors had entered Australia, a six-percent increase on the same period last year.

By May, as Australia became one of the first countries in the world to be hard hit by the fast-spreading virus, 30 to 50 percent of bookings at agents in Beijing and Shanghai had been canceled.

In 2008, the top five origins for visitors to Australia were New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States and China. Tourism Australia's executive general manager for the eastern hemisphere Richard Beere said previously Australia was the first western nation to receive approved destination status from China 10 years ago and the market had been developing ever since.

(Xinhua News Agency August 24, 2009)

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