Destination Australia Conference – Tourism in 2022 and beyond

  • Speech

Good morning, it's a great pleasure to be speaking to you today in what is an exciting time for tourism as we all look forward to a brighter 2022.

Can I start by saying thank-you to our tourism operators for their resilience and sacrifice over the course of the pandemic.

We have the world's best tourist attractions but it's the people who work in the sector and deliver that unique Australian experience that gives our brand the edge.

I am confident that Australian tourism will bounce back quickly.

Australia's health and economic response to the pandemic has been among the best in the world.

We are seeing restrictions – like mask mandates and density limits – easing as well as the return of international arrivals.

Prior to the pandemic, 9.5 million international visitors travelled to Australia and spent over $45 billion. We are all looking forward to welcoming those visitors once again.

Already, there are more than 1.23 million people with an eligible visa entitled to visit Australia, if they are double vaccinated.

And we have already welcomed 92,000 visitors, 80,000 international students, 35,000 skilled visa holders and 5,600 Working Holiday Makers since November.

To coincide with the reopening of our borders, Tourism Australia has launched a $40 million international marketing campaign called Don't Go Small. Go Australia to inspire travellers around the world to book a big holiday Down Under.

This new campaign is just the first step in a long-term strategy to restart tourism to Australia, with further investment in tourism marketing campaigns internationally to come in the second half of the year.

Research by Tourism Research Australia predicts a strong rebound in domestic tourism in 2022 returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Over the last year I have met with key stakeholders in a number of our international tourism markets including the USA, Singapore, Japan and India and their message to me has been consistent: they cannot wait to get back to Australia for a holiday

I am confident that international visitation will rebound strongly and Tourism Australia market research indicates that Australia is still a sought after destination.

To support this, our Government is taking action to further strengthen our international relationships.

Recently I had the opportunity to renew the Australia-India Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Tourism Cooperation.

Prior to the pandemic, India was Australia's fastest-growing source market for international visitors.

In 2019 alone, close to 400,000 visitors travelled to Australia from India with a combined visitor spend of $1.8 billion.

The renewed MoU positions tourism operators to take advantage of our international border re-opening to all fully vaccinated eligible visa holders, including tourists and business travellers.

Under the MoU, Australia and India will promote travel between our two nations and advance cooperation on tourism policy, data sharing, training and industry engagement.

The Morrison Government has taken action to support the tourism sector through the pandemic.

Since March 2020, our Government has provided more than $20 billion in assistance through JobKeeper, the Cash Flow Boost, and targeted support programs. 

Close cooperation between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments has delivered additional support under cost sharing agreements, with more than $1 billion provided for the tourism and hospitality sector during the second half of 2021.

Specific, targeted support programs include the $200m COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program, the $140m Supporting Australia's Exhibiting Zoos and Aquariums Program, and the $204m Tourism Aviation Network Support (TANS) Program

Tourism Australia was able to pivot to target domestic audiences to drive domestic demand for travel, through the Holiday Here This Year and Event Here This Year initiatives for the leisure and business events sectors.

While we welcome brighter prospects for 2022, the Morrison Government is also working to ensure we are best-placed to grow tourism and support more jobs and businesses.

Our Government delivered the THRIVE 2030 strategy that provides a framework for the visitor economy to rebuild and return to sustainable long-term growth under pillars of collaboration, diversification and modernisation.

I would like to acknowledge the work of former Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson, his team, and all in the sector who contributed to the strategy.

The Strategy prioritises early phase and urgent measures that are required to support rebuilding of the visitor economy in the short term.

It also focuses on the long-term, addressing pre-existing challenges, opportunities, structural trends, and community expectations to ensure Australia's visitor economy rebuilds to once again be competitive, vibrant, modern, resilient, and sustainable.

We look forward to continuing to collaborate with industry and across all levels of government to deliver the industry-led, government-enabled strategy but rest assured THRIVE 2030 will guide the path to recovery and long-term growth.

Through our consultations with industry, our Government has also heard the need for support to alleviate workforce pressures around skills and labour shortages.

The Government is addressing these shortages and the strong demand for labour, by incentivising the return to Australia of international students and working holiday makers.

In January, we announced that eligible international students and working holiday makers who arrive in Australia from 19 January 2022 will have their visa application fees refunded for a period of 8 weeks and 12 weeks respectively.

The Government has also temporarily removed the limit on student visa holders' working hours until the end of 2022.

In June 2021, changes to the Working Holiday Maker visa were also announced to provide more support to the tourism and hospitality sectors, including to expand the number of locations (now taking in Northern Australia and other remote areas) where tourism and hospitality work can count as 'specified work' for Working Holiday Maker visas.

We understand how important these traveller cohorts are to many parts of the tourism and hospitality sectors and these measures are designed to provide the support that is needed.

We want to continue to work with the sector to address its labour needs.

It has been a difficult couple of years, but we are excited about the return of international visitors again to Australia and the opportunities it offers for restoring our visitor economy so that it thrives into the future.

We have an incredible tourism product to offer, and we know that tourists want to come here to see our iconic attractions, sample our world-leading food and drink, learn about our Indigenous culture, and enjoy the Australian way of life.

Australia is a world-class destination, and we are the friendliest people, and we're excited to see people travelling again. After the last couple of years, we could all do with a holiday.

Thank you.

(1000 words – approx. 7 mins)

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