Lonely Planet Writer

Australia seeks to reel in foreign visitors with international angling contests

Australia is hoping to reel in even greater numbers of overseas visitors by targeting international fishermen – and women – to its shores.

Aussies angling for overseas tourists.
Aussies angling for overseas tourists. Image by Jan Tik / CC BY 2.0

Tourism authorities think that fishing is the greatest area of “untapped tourism potential” in Oz following the runaway success of their ‘Million Dollar Fish’ competition late last year.

The competition, held in the Northern Territories, was originally intended to target Australian anglers but ended up bringing 40,000 visitors from abroad who were hoping to hook the grand prize.

A total of 76 barramundis (the names comes from the Aboriginal word for large-scaled river fish) were tagged, with one of them having a AU$1 million prize tag and the rest worth $10,000 for those lucky enough to catch one.

Barramundi fisherman.
Barramundi fisherman. Image by Stephen Ridgway / CC BY 2.0

Ten of the fish ended up being caught but the million-dollar prize barramundi remained unhooked in the waterways of the Northern Territories.

The competition was so successful that it will get a second outing this October with an even bigger prize pool of $2 million, and this year, there will be 101 prize fish released.

The Million Dollar Fish website offers useful information on where to stay and also possible itineraries for those planning a road trip from places like Sydney and Melbourne.

Importantly, there is also advice on staying “crocwise” while out fishing with tips on how to avoid yourself becoming the main course for a saltwater crocodile.

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Fishing has been a major growth area for foreign tourists.  Image by: Getty

Fishing has been a major growth area in Australia for foreign tourists with 315,000 international visitors reporting they had given it a try during their visit.

That figure is 5% of all the international visitors to the country and tourism bosses think those interested in fishing tend to stay longer and spend more.

It is particularly important to the Northern Territories, which have traditionally been one of the Australia’s less explored areas.