Wires

Australia attracts record tourist traffic in Aug

SYDNEY, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Australia attracted a recordnumber of tourists in August as a flood of visitors from Chinadefied the high local dollar, helping support spending andemployment in a country fretting about a cool down in its miningboom.

Government data out on Tuesday showed short-term visitorarrivals jumped 3.7 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted514,100, passing the previous high set in June.

For the year to August arrivals topped 6 million for thefirst time, led by a near 16 percent increase in Chinesevisitors to 607,900. The growth came despite an historicallyhigh local currency.

"While some commentators debate whether the mining boom isover, in the background China is becoming more and moreimportant to Australia in a host of ways," said Craig James,chief economist at CommSec.

"This is still the early days of Chinese urbanisation andindustrialisation so the growth opportunities in coming yearsare huge."

Visitor arrivals from Japan were up 7.5 percent for the yearto August, while there were 17.5 percent more tourists fromSingapore and 5.5 percent more from Indonesia.

Australia was also attracting more migrants, with permanentsettlers up by 159,580 in the year to August to hit a 39-monthpeak. Net permanent and long-term arrivals were equally asstrong at 290,980 for the year.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole)

((Wayne.Cole@thomsonreuters.com; 612 9373 1813; ReutersMessaging: wayne.cole.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: AUSTRALIA ECONOMY/TOURISM