Tourism is one of Australia's key industries, directly employing 543,600 Australians and accounting for 4.7 per cent of Australia's total employment. It contributes 2.8 per cent of Australia's GDP, with international visitors contributing 0.8 per cent. International visitation to Australia in 2013 reached a record high of 6.4 million visitors.
Tourism industry exports (or international visitor consumption – short-term business, education and leisure travel) increased 5.7 per cent to $27 billion in 2012-13. In the same year, tourism accounted for around 8.9 per cent of Australia's total exports (Tourism Research Australia State of the Industry 2013: Update Issue 1).
On 13 February 2014 the international tourism function was moved from Austrade to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The move will allow linkages between the international tourism function and other areas of the Department to be better leveraged.
As part of the Government's Economic Diplomacy agenda in 2014, DFAT will work to strengthen bilateral tourism relationships with major source countries and participate in 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.
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 is aimed at increasing tourism flows and strengthening 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. The MoU also acknowledges other areas of cooperation including industry supply-side development and supporting the safety of Chinese tourists in Australia.
Under the MoU, an annual Australia–China Tourism Dialogue is held to report on the status of activities under the MoU 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.
For more information about the China ADS scheme contact the ADS Executive Officer at Austrade: