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Tourism and the visitor economy

Spectacular and unique, Australia is an aspirational tourism destination for international travellers.

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We enjoy an enviable reputation for our world-class cultural and natural attractions, from pristine beaches and rainforest to the opportunity to experience the oldest living culture on Earth.

After ten years of constant growth, we welcomed almost 10 million visitors in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re also a high yield market, with international visitors staying long and spending big.

Supported by the Australian Government’s visitor economy strategy, THRIVE 2030, the sector has resumed its path to long-term sustainable growth, creating new opportunities for investors.

Australians holiday at home

Operators in Australia also benefit from a strong domestic market.

Australians are enthusiastic travellers and love to explore their own backyard. Increased domestic demand during the pandemic has continued; and in 2022 overnight and day trip spending by domestic tourists surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

  • In a typical year, Australians account for around three-quarters of total tourism spend
  • Australians make more than five domestic overnight trips a year on average
  • In the September quarter 2022, spending on domestic overnight trips increased by 33% to A$27.8 billion, when compared to pre pandemic levels.
  • By 2027, annual domestic overnight trip and day trip expenditure is expected to reach A$137.9 billion and A$41.1 billion respectively.

 

Couple hiking

Poised to grow

International tourism is beginning to recover following the recent global disruption from the pandemic. Tourism Research Australia predicts international visitor expenditure will exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2024 before increasing to A$48.8 billion by 2027. 

With our proximity to fast-growing markets in the Asia-Pacific, we’re well-positioned to recapture a significant share of global travel spend.

Our long-term national strategy for the visitor economy, THRIVE 2030, sets out our plan to return to pre-pandemic visitor expenditure of A$166 billion by 2024, and grow it to A$230 billion by 2030.  

Australia’s political stability and resilient economy offers prospective businesses and investors a safe and low-risk business environment.

And the Australian Government is backing the further recovery of Australia’s visitor economy, with a new $48 million tourism and travel package announced in the October 2022 Budget. The measures include plans to: 

  • attract workers to our vibrant tourism industry 
  • train and upskill new and existing hospitality and tourism workers 
  • support tourism businesses with activities that drive international travel to and from Australia. 

Importantly, our THRIVE 2030 strategy supports sustainable growth. We know our natural assets, such as world-class nature and wildlife, are key to our attractiveness as a destination, and must be protected. In pursuing industry growth, we recognise that balancing social and environmental factors alongside economic ones is essential to sustain a truly healthy visitor economy for decades to come.  

Top 5 visiting nationalities for the year ending September 2022:

  • New Zealand
  • India
  • United Kingdom
  • Singapore
  • USA

Visitors from India spent $1.3 billion in total which included $973 million in Australia in the year ending September 2022, around three-quarters of pre-COVID levels – demonstrating a strong recovery for this market.

Australian tourism fast facts

Source: STR and TRA, based on pre-COVID 2019 data 

  • Total tourism worth A$166 billion 
  • International tourism worth A$45.4 billion, including $31.4 billion spent onshore 
  • Ranked 2nd globally for international visitor spend per trip 
  • Domestic spend grew around 6% per year for the 10 years to 2019 
  • 7th largest tourism market globally 
  • Australia’s 4th-largest export industry 
  • More than 88,000 international visitors spent more than $1,000 per night in Australia, with another 387,000 spending between $500 and $999
An Aboriginal tour guide with tourists on guided tour of the Daintree rainforest
Ngana Julaymba Dungay: We Are All Going Daintree guided tour. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Unique cultural experiences

Australia offers visitors the unique ability to experience the oldest living culture on Earth – that of Australia’s First Nations peoples.

First Nations tourism gives visitors a unique insight into the relationship Aboriginal people have with the land and sea – their Connection to Country – helping them create a deeper connection to Australia.

In 2019, 1.4 million international visitors (17 per cent) participated in an Indigenous tourism experience while visiting Australia, a six per cent year-on-year increase since 2010. For domestic travellers, the figure was one million, an increase of 13 per cent each year since 2013.

Roof top bar and restaurant

Wine and dine where the food is fresh

Australia’s award-winning restaurants and wineries serve up fresh produce from our unspoiled landscapes, while our cafes have made coffee an art form. Add to this a packed calendar of events that draws travellers year-round and you have a world-class tourism offering.

Food and wine accounts for 1 in 5 dollars spent by international tourists in Australia. 

Australian landscape - Hiking

Soaking up nature

Potential visitors rank Australia first for its world-class nature and beauty (Consumer Demand Project, Tourism Australia. Dec 2022). From pristine rainforests to spectacular beaches and vast outback plains, Australia’s stunning natural landscapes offer something for every traveller. Australia frequently appears on top 10 lists of the most world’s most beautiful countries, such as the 2022 Rough Guides reader’s vote.

Our diverse and unique ecosystems are home to a huge variety of plants and wildlife, much of which is found nowhere else on earth. This precious natural heritage is protected in thousands of parks and conservation reserves that dot the country.

The World Economic Forum ranks Australia number one for natural resources, based on both our natural beauty and highly developed outdoor tourism industry.

Australia offers abundant opportunities for businesses looking to offer nature-based experiences. With such an expansive natural environment – including a continuous coastline stretching some 30,000 kilometres – innovative businesses have the chance to look beyond familiar destinations to craft travel experiences that are new and truly unique.

Beach side restaurant and bar

Wellness tourism

  • Going to a health spa, sanctuary, or well-being centre is growing globally.
  • In 2019, day and overnight travellers participating in wellness activities increased by 10.4% from 2018.
  • In 2021-22, travellers participating in wellness activities increased 21% compared to 2020-21.

Incentives, grants and support

  • Austrade supports the tourism industry to innovate and build long-term sustainable growth.
  • The government’s tourism promotion agency Tourism Australia supports tourism businesses by attracting international visitors to Australia. Come and Say G’day is the new global campaign to support the Australian tourism industry rebuild.
  • A number of tourism investment resources are available to help you invest and make informed decisions. Tourism Research Australia provides statistics, research and economic data on domestic and international tourism to assist the government and tourism industry.
  • The Australian Tax Office’s New Investment Engagement Service gives tailored guidance on tax issues to businesses planning significant new investments in Australia.

Contact an Austrade specialist as an investor as a buyer