Americans get Sydney holidays for under $1000

Tourism NSW and Qantas are attempting to lure travellers from the United States to Sydney with cheap four-day holiday packages.

A report by the Tourism Forecasting Committee released in December predicted the value of Australia's inbound tourism for 2009 would drop by four per cent, or $500 million, to $24 billion.

Thousands of jobs are likely to be shed along the way as the industry struggles through the global financial crisis.

Minister for Tourism Jodi McKay said she hoped a $US999 package, which is being offered through a partnership between Tourism NSW and Qantas, would lure American tourists to Sydney rather than traditional vacation spots such as London, Paris and Hong Kong.

The deal, to be offered from the end of January to the end of March, includes a return flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, and four nights in a Sydney hotel.

"The package includes accommodation options in a number of top quality hotels, helping to foster longer visits," Ms McKay said in a statement on Friday.

She said visitors from the United States also would be encouraged to spend additional time on the south coast, the Blue Mountains, Mudgee, the Hunter Valley, Port Stephens, the Central Coast and Byron Bay.

Qantas Executive General Manager John Borghetti said Qantas Vacations expected to achieve a boost in direct bookings through the campaign.

"We now have three return services a week between Sydney and Los Angeles operated by our new A380 aircraft, which each have a capacity of 450 passengers," he said.

"This campaign will utilise that increased capacity as well as the strength of the US dollar in Australia to attract even more American visitors to NSW."

Visitors from the US are the third largest market for international tourists to NSW and last financial year spent nearly $527 million in the state, Tourism NSW said.

Asked if similar deals would be offered to tourists from other key international markets, a spokesperson for the minister said the goverment was "continually working internationally with airlines to open up capacity, increase inbound passenger numbers and offer more competitive prices".