The beauty of Australia's natural landscapes, from pristine coastal areas to lush rainforests and red deserts, makes Australia a desirable travel destination. About six million visitors come to Australia each year attracted by beautiful beaches, unique fauna, friendly people and a relaxed atmosphere.
Tourism is an important industry, contributing more than $42 billion to the Australian economy in 2012–13. The tourism industry directly employs more than 500,000 people and, with 46 cents in every tourism dollar spent in regional areas, tourism is also of considerable importance to Australia's regional communities.
Australia has some 9,700 protected nature areas such as national parks, and can offer visitors a vast and diverse array of nature-based tourism opportunities. Indigenous culture is also a unique and growing attraction for the Australian tourism industry.
Food and wine tourism is expanding, in line with Australia's growing international reputation as a producer of high-quality wines and a supplier of fresh, regionally based food products.
Travelling in Australia
Australia is a big country. Sometimes international visitors underestimate distances and travel times between cities and to rural centres in Australia. Australia stretches about 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles) across – about the same distance as New York to Los Angeles, London to Tehran, Bangkok to Tokyo, Singapore to New Delhi or Hong Kong to Mumbai.
Visa and immigration requirements
Australia welcomes millions of overseas visitors each year. Anyone who is not an Australian citizen needs a valid visa to enter and spend time in Australia. There are different visas for family and skilled migrants, tourists, business people, sports people, students and others. Many visas can be applied for online, and the Electronic Travel Authority can be applied for through travel agents and airlines. New Zealanders are granted an electronic visa on arrival in Australia.
Food, plant material and animal products from overseas, including many common souvenirs, could introduce some of the world's most serious pests and diseases into Australia. To avoid devastating our valuable agriculture and tourism industries, and our unique environment, such imports may need to be confiscated and destroyed.