Australia - Tourism, travel, and recreation

Among Australia's natural tourist attractions are the Great Barrier Reef, a mecca for scuba divers; the varied and unusual flora and fauna; and the sparsely inhabited outback regions, which in some areas may be toured by camel. Other attractions include Ballarat and other historic gold-rush towns near Melbourne; wineries, particularly in the Barossa Valley, 55 km (34 mi) northeast of Adelaide; Old Sydney Town, north of Sydney, a recreation of the Sydney Cove Settlement as it was in the early 19th century; and the arts festivals held in Perth every year and in Adelaide every two years, featuring foreign as well as Australian artists.

Among the sports that lure tourists are surfing, sailing, fishing, golf, tennis, cricket, and rugby. Melbourne is famous for its horse racing (Australia's most celebrated race is the Melbourne Cup) and for its 120,000-capacity cricket ground, reputedly the biggest in the world.

Except for nationals of New Zealand and certain other Commonwealth countries, visitors must have valid passports issued by an Australian or British consul or passport officer. They must also be in possession of sufficient funds to maintain themselves while in Australia and hold tickets for travel to a destination outside Australia. Immunizations are required only of tourists coming from an infected area.

The government actively promotes tourism. In 2000, Australia attracted 4,946,200 foreign visitors. Typically, most visitors come from East Asia and the Pacific region. That year there were 194,926 hotel rooms with 567,546 beds and an occupancy rate of 58%. Tourist receipts that year totaled over US $8 billion. In 2002, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Melbourne at US $233 and in Sydney, at US $175.

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