Soaring dollar sends Aussies overseas on the cheap

Noticed a few more Aussie accents on the streets of your big American city lately?

That's because you're cheap. So to speak.

Everywhere that takes a US dollar, euro or rupee as legal tender is fair game for vacationers from Down Under at the moment, as the Aussie dollar continues its record-breaking run.

The Aussie hit a seven-month high above 108 US cents on Wednesday after the Reserve Bank of Australia, ironically enough citing better conditions in the US and Europe, kept the official interest rate on hold.

Meanwhile, just-released Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures for 2011 showed travel to the US surged 12.8 percent, according to cited on

India, Thailand, Vietnam and France were among other popular destinations last year, as the Aussie began its sustained climb.

The ABS figures showed that Australians took 7.8 million international trips last year — two million more than the number arriving for an holiday Down Under.

"The euro is at 80 cents to our dollar; the US held parity — give or take a few cents — all year," Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief Jayson Westbury told, by way of simple explanation. 

Music to the ears of airlines and travel booking companies, but just another kick in the guts for local tourism operators, not to mention businesses that rely on the export of Australian-made products.

Australia's Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive John Lee wasn't sugar coating it:

"With the dollar likely to remain strong for some time and investment in new resorts in south-east Asia, many leisure tourism operators in Australia are facing an uncertain future, he was quoted as saying.

"The same global economic conditions pushing our dollar up are affecting our source markets.

"Uncertainty in many of our traditional markets has seen declines in annual arrivals, including from the UK, Europe, Japan, Canada and the US."

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