Figures released by the Bureau of Statistics show that more than 72,000 international visitors arriving into the country for the month of July surpassing the figure for the same period last year. ??

The actual 72,067 total represents a 7.1 per cent increase over the 67,263 figure recorded in 2010 and effectively takes Fiji's 2011 seven-month total to 374,801. According to Tourism Fiji, this in itself represents an 8.6 per cent increase over the 345,017 recorded for the January-July period in 2010.??

Australian visitor arrivals again increased, rising by 7.1 per cent to reach 34,263 in the process eclipsing the previous July record of 31,986 set in 2010.??

Tourism Fiji CEO, Josefa Tuamoto said while the ongoing strong Australian dollar was playing a role in maintaining ongoing growth from this key source market, much of the growth could be directly correlated with the highly targeted campaigns undertaken by Tourism Fiji's Australian office along with key airline partners, including Air Pacific, Virgin and Jetstar, retailers and wholesalers.??

Feedback received from these partners, he said indicated some very healthy forward booking patterns which would play a major role in Fiji maintaining projected 2011 targets of some 660,000 international visitor arrivals.??

Figures from New Zealand jumped too with July 2011 arrivals showing a very healthy 11 per cent increase to reach 15,693, a 1553 increase over the 14,140 recorded for the same period last year.??

While visitor arrival figures emanating from other key markets – the US, Canada and UK – remained more or less stable registering only slight fluctuations, the biggest monthly percentage increase was again achieved by Chinese visitor arrivals, up an impressive 77.1 per cent from 1334 in July 2010 to reach 2363 this year.??

Mr Tuamoto said he was extremely gratified with the China result which he said was solid justification for the increased efforts the national tourist office, Air Pacific and industry partners combined have mounted in several key Chinese cities in recent months.??

The release of the July visitor arrival statistics coincided with figures released by the Fiji Islands Hotel and Tourism Association which show average length of visitor stay in July has increased from 9.2 days to 9.3 days.