Life Travel Americans flock to Canberra in record numbers

Americans flock to Canberra in record numbers

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A record number of Americans visited Canberra last year, with figures showing more than 20,700 came to the capital.

Data from Visit Canberra shows a 22 per cent jump in American visitors in 2015 compared to the previous year. Australia-wide there was only an 8 per cent increase.

University of Canberra tourism expert Naomi Dale said more people were ditching the tour groups and travelling solo to Canberra.

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“Now that people are travelling more independently they are making the most of their time and doing things that are off the beaten path,” she said.

“As such Canberra is known as the bush capital and it is an exciting opportunity.”

A large portion of the international visitation came from people visiting family and friends in Canberra.

Hope Gofton from New York moved to Canberra last year to be with her Australian boyfriend.

“It has been a huge change from New York. In Canberra it is quiet and calm, it is very beautiful,” she said.

“People just seem healthier, everyone rides bikes all the time.”

Record number of international guests

Dr Dale said social media and Canberra’s food and wine scene was having a “big impact” on visitation numbers.

“People feel much more comfortable with information from friends and family through social media and through people who have actually experienced the travel opposed to a glossy brochure,” she said.

Canberra received a record number of international guests in 2015 with 186,000 visitors, up 3 per cent on the previous year.

About 15 per cent of those were Chinese, while visitors from the United Kingdom and from the US made up 11 per cent each.

Americans Nicolet Danese and Sean Grady play for Canberra water polo teams. Photo: ABC
Americans Nicolet Danese and Sean Grady play for Canberra water polo teams. Photo: ABC

Almost half of the international visitors came for a holiday while 29 per cent came to visit family or friends.

In 2015 international visitors spent $381 million, up slightly on the previous year.

Sport brings Americans across

Canberra sporting clubs are also seeing a strong representation of American players in their ranks.

The Canberra Cavalry current have 17 Americans on their roster, while there are three Americans in Canberra playing water polo this season.

Nicolet Danese, from California, and Sean Grady, from Florida, both came to Canberra on their gap year after university to play water polo and work.

“A few of our friends from university have come across to play with Nordek Water Polo Club after they graduated and we heard really good things so we decided to come on out,” said Ms Danese.

“The water polo community is really small so it is easy to find where you fit in and mutual friends and mutual interests and it’s really positive.”

Since 2009 there has been about 20 American “imports” playing in Canberra.

Mr Grady said there was strong culture of coming to Canberra to play from his Californian university.

“There’s a pipeline of water polo players who played on my same university team who all came here through a guy who started a club here,” he said.

Both are here to play for the summer season and said the transition into Australian life had been very easy.

“The culture has been really good and the people have been really nice and it’s been a really easy adjustment,” Ms Danese said.



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