Australia is on the brink of its biggest tourism boom since the influx of Japanese tourists in the 1980s, as a rising Asian middle class and new aircraft technology encourages airlines to launch hundreds of new flights and re-map the traditional aviation hubs linking the country with the rest of the world.
A dramatic shake-up of Qantas and Virgin Australia's international routes, at a time when a record number of foreign airlines are opening up new routes into Australia, will spur the growth and further cut airfares, which have fallen 30 per cent over the last decade.
Government ministers, airline chiefs and tourism officials told the AFR Weekend the country must prepare for a tourism bonanza, which has the potential to replace mining as the country's key economic pillar.
However, there are concerns within the $120 billion industry that Australia lacks the infrastructure to cater for millions of new visitors and believe more resources need to be injected into one of the country's few growth industries.
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