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Services & digital trade

International tourism engagement

International tourism engagement

The travel and tourism sector is one of the most heavily impacted sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic, with an anticipated 60-80% decline in international tourism in 2020 (Diriyah Communiqué, G20 Tourism Ministers' Meeting, 7 October 2020). DFAT is active in multilateral tourism bodies with a current focus on international tourism recovery.

In 2019, Tourism was a $152 billion industry, a key driver of Australia's economy that employed around 1 in 19 Australians and accounted for 8.2 per cent of Australia's exports. In 2018-19, tourism directly employed 666,000 people and contributed 3.1 per cent to Australia's total GDP ($60.8 billion).

Tourism Research Australia: National Tourism Satellite Account

In the year ended December 2019, Australia received over 9.4 million visitors, an increase of 4.9 per cent on the previous year. (ABS Overseas Arrivals and Departures, December 2019)

How does DFAT support Australian tourism?

DFAT seeks to advance Australia's tourism priorities, share insights and distribute global better practice models through multilateral tourism bodies, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Tourism Working Group, the G20 Tourism Working Group, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Tourism Committee.

Given the heavy impact of COVID-19 on global tourism, the focus of our work in these fora is on tourism recovery.

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

In 2014, DFAT negotiated a five-year multi-agency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with India covering information sharing; travel facilitation; training and skills development; and, removing barriers to investment in our tourism infrastructure.

In 2016, DFAT negotiated an updated MOU with China, covering marketing; investment, labour and skills development; research and infrastructure; and, improving visa integrity processes. Also included were updates to the Approved Destination Status scheme (allowing Chinese tourists to visit Australia in guided groups) and the promotion of both countries as a destination for free and independent travellers (FITS).

In 2017, DFAT negotiated an MOU with Singapore covering tourism industry supply-side development; research partnerships and data sharing; and, sharing of tourism information and insights.

In September 2019, Australia and Japan resumed the Tourism Dialogue with talks in Perth to coincide with ANA's inaugural Tokyo to Perth flight. There are no plans for a bilateral MOU as our shared interests are well served via APEC, G20 and the OECD.

Officials' level annual or biennial talks supporting these bilateral tourism relationships are currently on hold.

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