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 7.4 million international tourism arrivals to Australia in the year to 31 December 2015, an increase of 8.2 per cent on the previous year. In the year to 30 September 2015, visitors spent a record $34.8 billion, up 13 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 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, with the fourth Dialogue held in Suzhou, China in August 2015.

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 and draw a road map for enhancing cooperation, a Joint Working Group (JWG) meets biennially to exchange views, and develop a road map for enhancing cooperation. At the inaugural JWG in Sydney in 2015, a Work Plan for activity from 2015 – 2019 under the MOU was agreed.

Australia-Singapore Tourism Official’s Talks

The first annual Australia-Singapore Tourism Officials' Talks (Talks) took place in Sydney on 1 December 2015. The Talks were established under the Australia Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Key outcomes included the sharing of insights into tourism research, marketing, and cruise tourism, and innovative responses to industry challenges. The Talks were followed by technical tours on 2 December to the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay and to the Sydney International Airport. The next Talks will be held in Singapore in May 2016.


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

Last Updated: 17 February 2016

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