International tourism engagement

Tourism is one of Australia's key industries, directly employing 534,000 Australians and accounting for 4.6 per cent of Australia's total employment. It contributes 2.7 per cent ($43.4 billion) of Australia's GDP. There were 6.9 million international tourism arrivals to Australia in the year to 31 December 2014, an increase of 7.6 per cent on the previous year. These visitors spent a record $31.1 billion, up 7 per cent on 2013.

Tourism industry exports (or international visitor consumption – short-term business, education and leisure travel) increased 4.1 per cent to $27.2 billion in 2013-14. In the same year, tourism accounted for around 8.2 per cent of Australia's total exports (Tourism Research Australia: Tourism Update – September quarter 2014).

As part of the Government's Economic Diplomacy agenda, DFAT is working to strengthen bilateral tourism relationships with important tourism markets and leverage key multilateral tourism forums, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Tourism Working Group and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Tourism Committee, to align with our priorities under Tourism 2020. Tourism 2020 is a national tourism strategy and a partnership of government working with industry to achieve the tourism industry’s potential.

Australia – China Memorandum of Understanding on strengthening tourism cooperation

In April 2011, Australia and China's commitment to strengthening tourism cooperation was reinforced through the signing of a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Australian Government and the China National Tourism Administration. The MOU aims to increase tourism flows and strengthen people-to-people links between the two countries. The MOU continues the Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme whilst promoting cooperation in emerging travel segments such as individual, education and company paid incentive travel.

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. The inaugural meeting of the Australia–China Tourism Dialogue was held in Cairns in June 2011, in conjunction with the Australia-China Tourism Summit. The second Dialogue was held in July 2012 in Hefei, China. The third Dialogue was held in Sydney in September 2014. This year’s Dialogue will be held in Suzhou, China in August.

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 Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb, and witnessed by Prime Ministers Abbott and Modi.

Under the MOU, Australia and India will work 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 and draw a road map for enhancing cooperation, a Joint Working Group will meet biennially to exchange views, and develop a road map for enhancing cooperation. A work plan for any activity under the MOU will be developed in consultation with India and relevant Australian Government agencies, such as Tourism Australia and Austrade.


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

Phone: 1800 048 155
Websites: Austrade, Tourism Australia

Last Updated: 11 June 2014

Useful links