Around 55,000 extra tourists could be heading to NSW each year after budget airline AirAsia X announced it will begin daily flights to Sydney in mid-2012.
NSW Tourism Minister George Souris says the new service from Kuala Lumpur will begin in mid-2012 and will eventually bring around 55,000 more international visitors to the state a year.
‘This daily service will inject nearly $138 million into NSW every year and is another great step towards the NSW Government’s goal of doubling overnight tourism expenditure by 2020,’ Mr Souris said.
AirAsia X, a long-haul offshoot of Asia’s largest budget airline, AirAsia, has been lobbying to fly into Sydney for four years.
The new service will aim to capitalise on the growing Malaysian market.
In the year ending September 2011, visitor expenditure to NSW from Malaysia totalled $142 million, an increase of more than 75 per cent on the previous year.
Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said Malaysia was a critical market.
‘(Malaysia) now represents Australia’s 7th largest (market) and one of our fastest growing,’ Mr McEvoy said.
‘An average Malaysian tourist in Australia now spends almost $4,700 during their stay and, vitally, they are amongst the highest repeat visitors to our country.’
Asian markets such as Malaysia would play an increasingly important part in achieving Australian tourism’s year 2020 goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure to $140 billion, Mr McEvoy said.
Tourism Australia believes the Malaysian market, with existing annual expenditure of around $1.1 billion, has the potential to increase to up to $2.5 billion by 2020.
AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani said he was delighted Sydney would be joining the airline’s network.
‘It’s been a long time coming, but we are thrilled to announce that AirAsia is spreading its wings in Australia and finally jetting in to Sydney,’ Mr Osman-Rani said.