International tourism engagement

Tourism is a $130 billion industry that employs around 1 in 13 Australians, accounts for 11 per cent of Australia’s exports and is a key driver of Australia’s economy.

Tourism directly employs more than 580,200 Australians, 4.9 per cent of our country’s total workers. It contributes 3.2 per cent ($53 billion) of Australia's GDP.

8.6 million international tourists visited Australia in the year ended 30 June 2017, an increase of 9 per cent on the previous year. Those visitors spent a record $40.6 billion, up 7 per cent from the previous year.

How does DFAT support Australian tourism?

DFAT supports Australian tourism by strengthening Australia's bilateral relationships with governments of key tourism markets such as China, India and Singapore. We work with other government agencies, including Austrade and Tourism Australia, to further enhance Australia’s appeal to international visitors.

Australia’s national tourism strategy, Tourism 2020, is a partnership between government and industry to grow the competitiveness of Australia’s tourism industry. 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.


In 2016, Australia and China signed an updated memorandum of understanding (MOU) on tourism cooperation.

The MOU continues our successful tourism partnership with China in areas such as marketing, investment, labour and skills development, and research and infrastructure. It also continues the Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme, which allows Chinese tourists to visit Australia in guided groups. More information on the ADS scheme (including contact details) is available on the Austrade website.

Under the MOU, we are streamlining visa processing and encouraging more independent visitors to travel between the two countries.

2017 is the China-Australia Year of Tourism and is being celebrated with cultural events, marketing partnerships and trade missions. More information on the 2017 China-Australia Year of Tourism is available on the Tourism Australia website.

At the last annual Australia-China Tourism Dialogue, held in Beijing on 29 August 2017, officials highlighted tourism policy developments and key events under the 2017 China-Australia Year of Tourism.


Australia and India signed an MOU on tourism in 2014. Under the MOU, Australia and India share information on tourism policy and encourage cooperation between tourism stakeholders in both countries.

A joint Australia–India working group on tourism meets every two years, with the first meeting, held in Sydney in 2015, producing a work plan for activities under the MOU from 2015–2019. The second meeting of the working group took place in New Delhi in June 2017. Key points of discussion included visas, aviation links and opportunities for collaboration on tourism research.


Australia and Singapore signed an MOU on joint tourism cooperation in August 2017. Areas of cooperation under the MOU include tourism industry supply-side development; research partnerships and data sharing; and sharing of tourism information and insights.

Australia and Singapore hold yearly tourism talks under the Australia–Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

The third annual talks, held on the Gold Coast in February 2017, produced an agreement to conduct joint research in key markets, as well as in-depth discussions on digital tourism data and training in-market travel agent partners.

The next round of talks will be held in Singapore in 2018.

Last Updated: 26 October 2017