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 7.8 million international tourism arrivals to Australia in the year to 30 June 2016, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. These visitors spent a record $38.1 billion, up 14 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

During Australia Week in China, the Prime Minister announced 2017 as the Australia-China Year of Tourism. The Year of Tourism reinforces the China market’s importance to Australia and will help to strengthen our people-to-people relationship. A number of significant bilateral events, exchanges and announcements are planned throughout the year.

Australia and China's commitment to strengthening tourism cooperation is reinforced by a 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. 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 Year of Tourism.

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: 4 October 2016

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