Take another shrimp off the barbie: Australia's popularity goes down under


It's not such a g'day in the once-golden tourism destination. Qantas, Australia's main airline, is crying uncle in this economy. It has laid off 1,700, grounded 10 jets, and put its order for new jets on hold. A few months ago, the country's official tourism department was predicting a 4% drop on visitors. The reality looks like it's going to be much worse than that. Local paper The Australian predicts the plunge in visitors could be in the double digits.

Qantas is still projecting a profit -- it's got a virtual lock on most city-to-city domestic air business -- but its profit may be as little as a fifth of what was recently being projected. For years, Qantas dominated traffic to the country, and rates were correspondingly high, making a trip to Australia an impossible dream for many. But this year, the recession has hobbled vacation budgets, taking the country's tourism down.