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Tourism industry braces for hit from economic -

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Reporter: Sara Everingham

PETER CAVE: The Australian tourism industry is facing an uncertain year with predictions that the
global economic crisis will see the number of overseas visitors to Australia drop by about 250,000.

The tourism industry in central Australia with attractions such as Uluru is largely reliant on
international visitors. The industry there says tourist numbers have dropped off but not by as much
as first feared.

But there are concerns those still travelling are tightening their belts, spending less and being
more cautious about planning future trips.

Sara Everingham prepared this report.

VOX POP: Champagne mate you'd be alright with that being a Frenchmen.

SARA EVERINGHAM: It's sunset at Uluru. Tourists line up along a sand dune sipping champagne
watching the changing face of the rock. Way Outback Tours is one company that operates here and it
says business is booming.

Phil Taylor is the manager of operations.

PHIL TAYLOR: We are pinching ourselves every day and just sort of wondering, well, you know, where
is this downturn that they're talking about, is it still to come as far as we're concerned?

SARA EVERINGHAM: But this afternoon there are plenty of free spaces in the car parks. APT runs
coach tours around here and it's been cutting back its trips.

Warwick Rock is the general manager.

WARWICK ROCK: The UK market was an extremely strong market for us and that's had a little bit of a
drop away with that on our short breaks APT coach touring. We've also seen a fairly major drop in
the Japanese market that's been going on for quite some time, probably almost a year now, even
before the official downturn.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In the last year visitor numbers to Uluru have dropped about eight per cent and
that's mainly because there are fewer international visitors. The resort here is on sale and its
operator Voyages wouldn't disclose its occupancy rates.

Renton Kelly, the chairman of Tourism Central Australia is keeping a close eye on the numbers.

RENTON KELLY: Tourism in central Australia is one of the most important industries.

SARA EVERINGHAM: When he took on the job last year he feared what might lie ahead.

RENTON KELLY: However, surprisingly the confidence level and the number of visitors we're seeing in
central Australia hasn't had the impact that one would associate with the press reports of the past
month or so.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And some international visitors see Australia as a cheaper destination.

Carol Zimmerman is visiting Uluru from Arizona.

CAROL ZIMMERMAN: Because we're going through an economic crisis as well we couldn't afford to go to
a lot of other places but Australia was a little bit more affordable for us.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And is that because of the exchange rate?


SARA EVERINGHAM: But she is travelling on a budget.

CAROL ZIMMERMAN: We'd love to travel and unfortunately both for our economic times and I think
yours too that we've really had to conserve. We've gone a little lower budget along the way.

But we've also decided that this is such a trip of a lifetime that we were going to do it, so we're
hoping we're helping your economy.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And where are you staying?

CAROL ZIMMERMAN: Well we're staying at the Outback Pioneer Lodge, which was the lower budget one
and, but it's still just as beautiful to sit here and look at this rock.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The tourism industry is trying to encourage domestic tourists to travel more
within Australia but they too appear to be spending less. Bev and her family are here from Sydney

BEV: You just don't know what's going to happen. I mean look, if you've got employment and you've
got a mortgage I guess you're not too badly off at the moment. But you don't know what's going to
happen a bit further down the track.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And so where are you making cutbacks on this trip?

BEV: We're doing it a little bit cheaper we're not doing a lot of the tours, you know, we're doing
a lot of things ourselves.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Food and that sort of thing like I see here, you've got a bit of a picnic.

BEV: We brought all our food with us, we packed sandwiches for lunch and we brought a chicken and
some rolls and some drinks in the esky and things like that.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Those cutbacks are being felt throughout the red centre. Rex Neindorf runs the
reptile centre in Alice Springs.

REX NEINDORF: I think people are still watching where they spend their money. Unfortunately for
attractions, we're one of the first things that suffers because it's an expendable item for them.

People will still travel, they still need to get food, they need to get fuel and still need to get
their accommodation and so those things are always sorted.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The local industry believes it will get through the tougher times but tourists are
being cautious. Robert Young is on holiday at Uluru but at his home in the Barossa Valley he drives
around tourists in a coach for a living, and he says he won't be rushing into planning his own next

ROBERT YOUNG: We're still sort of (inaudible) sort of way, probably won't go for another one for
quite some time now. You know, because of the money situation, and also you don't know the
situation job wise, you know.

PETER CAVE: And that was Rob Young from the Barossa Valley ending Sara Everingham's report. And
let's hope they picked up all those champagne corks they left behind.