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Weaker dollar keeping Australians home

Currency fluctuations have heavily deterred Australians from taking overseas holidays over Christmas in the past but this time around travel tour companies do not anticipate a slowdown in visitors to the Pacific islands despite the dollar dropping significantly this year. Tour operators and hoteliers in the region need not fear a slump in tourists in the 2014- 2015 season because savvy travellers from Australia are opting to take out new prepaid travel cards which allow users to lock in foreign currencies at that day’s exchange rate, a better deal than using regular credit cards.

Foreign tourists entering the islands region from Australia by far exceed travellers from other destinations with exponential growth in numbers over the last decade. Fiji, alone absorbed 332,000 Australians in 2012 – a phenomenal rise from just 128,000 in 2002. The Australian dollar was riding at US$1.01 in 2011 – which gave travellers a healthy exchange when they took holidays abroad but now it has slumped to US87 cents with some analysts tipping a further decline to as little as US77 cents in 2015. “Australians have gained an appetite for overseas travel on the back of our currency kudos,” said corporate affairs manager Haydn Long at Flight Centre – the leading travel agency in Australia.

“The dollar’s powerful ride has allowed us to stay and live larger” while travelling overseas to exotic destinations like the South Pacific. Long said Flight Centre recommends travellers this year to book and pay for hotels, transport and excursions ahead in Australia to avoid nasty exchange rate surprises on your trip. “Pay as much as you can of your travel before you go. This way you lock in a rate and you know how much you have left to budget for spending money,” said Long.

Four-star stays Australian agents have also noticed travellers are exploring budget stays in the region so they can have greater spending dollars. Travel agencies have over recent months begun offering discounts on airfares and packages to entice travellers. “If the dollar is weaker, they may shorten their stay or opt for four-star accommodation rather than five,” he said. Travel Money Oz general manager Dion Jensen recommends using currency exchange outlets which include commission and fees in their advertised rates. “Avoid airports and tourist areas as the currency exchange businesses in these areas have a captive audience and will offer the worst rate and higher fees and commissions,” cautioned Jenson.

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