International tourism engagement

Tourism is one of Australia's key industries, directly employing 580,200 Australians and accounting for 4.9 per cent of Australia's total employment. It contributes 3.2 per cent ($53.0 billion) of Australia's GDP. There were almost 8.3 million international tourism arrivals to Australia in 2016, an increase of 11 per cent on the previous year. In 2016, international visitors to Australia spent a record $39.1 billion, up 7 per cent on the previous year.

DFAT leads on Australia's international tourism policy engagement, and works in partnership with Austrade and Tourism Australia to promote our economic diplomacy and Tourism 2020 goals. Tourism 2020 is a national tourism strategy and a partnership of government working with industry to achieve the tourism industry's potential.

DFAT is working to strengthen bilateral tourism relationships with key tourism markets including China, India and Singapore. DFAT also seeks to advance Australia's Tourism 2020 priorities through multilateral tourism bodies including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Tourism Working Group and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Tourism Committee.

Australia – China Tourism Cooperation

In Beijing in April 2016, Prime Minister Turnbull and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang witnessed the signing of an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on tourism cooperation between Australia and the People's Republic of China. The updated MOU continues the successful partnership on tourism cooperation in areas such as marketing and supply-side issues such as labour and skills development, investment, research and infrastructure. The MOU also continues the Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme which facilitates Chinese tourists travelling to Australia in guided groups. Under the agreement, we are streamlining visa processing and encouraging more independent visitors to travel between the two countries.

Under the MOU, an annual Australia–China Tourism Dialogue is held to report on the status of activities and determine future areas of cooperation in the tourism sector. The Dialogue includes the existing annual meeting between Australian and Chinese officials on the ADS scheme. Since 2011, the Dialogue has alternated between Australia and China. The fifth Dialogue was held in Australia in August 2016, where Australian and Chinese officials committed to cooperate on key activities, including supporting each other for promotional and event activities during the 2017 China-Australia Year of Tourism.

China-Australia Year of Tourism 2017

On 5 February 2017, the China-Australia Year of Tourism 2017 (YOT) was jointly launched at the Sydney Opera House by Dr Li Jinzao, Chairman China National Tourism Administration, and the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. The opening ceremony was attended by around 2,000 guests.

A program of significant events is planned in both Australia and China during the YOT. Australia's events include Ministerial trade missions to China, marketing and airline partnerships, a Business Events Showcase, sporting and cultural events, and a closing ceremony in China. China's events include an arrival ceremony at the ancient city gate of Xi'an for 1,000 Australian tourists and a panda caravan tour in Australia.

Australian tourism event and business owners are participating by co-branding their product with the YOT. Access to the YOT logo is by application through Tourism Australia's website. Access is granted provided one or more of the following criteria are met:

  • have established links to the Chinese outbound tourism market
  • promote diversity, growth and innovation in the Australia-China tourism relationship
  • promote Australian arts, creative industries and sporting events to the China travel market or to Chinese tourists in Australia.

Events or entities deemed not to be conducive to furthering the Australia-China relationship will be ineligible to co-brand as part of the YOT.

Australia – India Memorandum of Understanding in the field of Tourism

In November 2014, the Australia-India Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the field of Tourism was signed by former Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb, and witnessed by the Australian and Indian Prime Ministers.

Under the MOU, Australia and India are working together to encourage cooperation and information sharing on tourism policy, and encourage cooperation between tourism stakeholders in Australia and India. In order to exchange views a Joint Working Group (JWG) meets biennially. At the inaugural JWG in Sydney in 2015, a Work Plan for activity from 2015 – 2019 under the MOU was agreed. The second JWG meeting is expected to take place in India during 2017.

Australia-Singapore Tourism Official’s Talks

The 3rd annual Australia-Singapore Tourism Officials' Talks (Talks) took place on the Gold Coast on 27 February 2017. The Talks were established under the Australia Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Key outcomes included agreement to conduct joint research in key markets and in-depth discussions on digital tourism data and training in-market travel agent partners.

On 28 February, the Australian and Singapore delegations toured three 2018 Commonwealth Games competition venues, including the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre, Coomera Indoor Sports Centre and the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct.

Hosting the Talks alternates between Australia and Singapore. The next Talks are expected to take place in Singapore in 2018.


For more information about the China ADS scheme contact the ADS Executive Officer at Austrade:

Last Updated: 12 April 2017

Useful links