Communique - Tourism Ministers' Meeting

  • Media release

Tourism Ministers and Tourism Senior Officials met in Sydney on 17 March 2023 to discuss challenges and priorities to sustain the growth of Australia’s visitor economy.

This was the second meeting of the nation’s Tourism Ministers under the Albanese Government chaired by Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator the Hon Don Farrell.

Minister Farrell thanked Ministers and their representatives for their ongoing leadership and commitment to supporting Australia’s visitor economy recover and grow. Attending Ministers included the Hon Jeremy Rockliff from Tasmania, the Hon Roger Cook from Western Australia, the Hon Stirling Hinchliffe from Queensland, the Hon Zoe Bettison from South Australia, and the Hon Steve Dimopoulos from Victoria. Jonathan Kobus, Executive Branch Manager, VisitCanberra, attended on behalf of Chief Minister Andrew Barr from the Australian Capital Territory, and Scott Lovett, Deputy Chief Executive, Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, attended on behalf of the Hon Nicole Manison of the Northern Territory. Stephen Mahoney, General Manager, Policy, Product and Engagement, Destination NSW, attended on behalf of Minister Franklin, noting the New South Wales Government is in a caretaker period.

Minister Farrell re-affirmed the Albanese Government’s commitment to THRIVE 2030, The Re-Imagined Visitor Economy, Australia’s national strategy for the long-term sustainable growth of the visitor economy and welcomed Tourism Ministers’ commitment to implementing THRIVE 2030. Ministers acknowledged the work of the Australian Standing Committee on Tourism (ASCOT) under the collaborative workplan endorsed by Tourism Ministers in 2022, which forms part of THRIVE 2030’s action plan. Minister Farrell also provided an update on implementation of the Government’s $48 million tourism and travel package.

Ministers discussed the ongoing recovery in the visitor economy and welcomed the recent reopening of China’s international border and easing of travel restrictions, and noted that:

  • domestic travel has rebounded well – domestic visitor spending was strong throughout 2022: spend per trip was 38 per cent higher in December 2022 than in December 2019.
  • international visitors are returning – steady growth since the international border opened in February 2022, saw December 2022 international short-term arrivals at 60 per cent of the December 2019 number. Ministers noted that holiday-makers have, to date, been slower to return than those visiting friends and relatives or business travellers while also noting that the latest figures show leisure traveller numbers in January have overtaken visiting friends and relatives for the first time since borders reopened.
  • international students are bouncing back – the number of international student visa holders in Australia has increased 89 per cent since the border opened to students in December 2021 and the sector continue to attract new commencements.
  • global factors including inflation, supply chain friction and higher interest rates can constrain household budgets and/or drive prices higher, and need to be continually monitored.

Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director, Tourism Australia, provided an update on Tourism Australia’s international marketing campaign, and Ministers discussed opportunities and challenges one year on from the reopening of Australia’s international borders.

Ministers noted work under THRIVE 2030 to diversify Australia’s source markets for visitation. This included a discussion on new traveller behaviour, strong economic and demographic growth in the Indo-Pacific region and a desire to strengthen strategic relationships through the growth of people-to-people links. Ministers discussed opportunities to further diversify Australia’s source markets for international visitation, consistent with a broader trade diversification agenda and focus on strengthened engagement in India and Southeast Asia.

Ministers noted work underway to build workforce capability, through fee-free TAFE places, increase of work rights for pension holders and communications outreach to encourage people to work in tourism. This complemented the work underway to shorten visa processing times, including for Working Holiday Makers, migrants and international visitors.

Ministers will continue meeting regularly throughout the year to monitor and discuss the impact of domestic and international factors on Australia’s visitor economy and opportunities to address these and other long-term challenges to achieve sustainable growth.

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