Communique – Tourism Ministers meeting

  • Communique

Today Tourism Ministers met in Melbourne on the sidelines of the 2024 Australian Tourism Exchange, to discuss their continued commitment to supporting Australia’s travel and tourism industry.

Chaired by Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator the Hon Don Farrell, the meeting was co-hosted by Steve Dimopoulos MP, Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events. Chief Minister Andrew Barr of the Australian Capital Territory, the Hon John Graham MLC from New South Wales, the Hon Michael Healy MP from Queensland and the Hon Zoe Bettison MP from South Australia were also in attendance. Officials representing their Ministers included Shaun Drabsch, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (for the Hon Joel Bowden MLA); Jenna Cairney, Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of State Growth, Government of Tasmania (for the Hon Jeremy Rockliff MP); and Rebecca Brown, Director General, Western Australia Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (for the Hon Rita Saffioti MLA).

Ministers noted an update from Austrade Deputy CEO Philippa King and affirmed their continued support to deliver THRIVE 2030, Australia’s national strategy for the long-term sustainable growth of the visitor economy, acknowledging ongoing collaboration and progress across the Australian Government and by states, territories, and industry to implement the 64 strategic actions in THRIVE 2030’s Phase 1 (Recovery Phase). Ministers noted work to develop the action plan for Phase 2 (Consolidation Phase), which is to commence in 2025, is well underway.

Tourism Ministers noted a presentation from Phillipa Harrison, Tourism Australia Managing Director, on plans to drive international demand for an Australian holiday and business events, through coordinated marketing efforts with the states and territories.

Ministers discussed current conditions in the visitor economy including steady domestic tourism and returning international visitor numbers. Ministers noted that:

  • Data from Tourism Research Australia shows that Phase 1 targets for THRIVE 2030 have already been reached. As at year ending December 2023, visitor spend (by travelling Australians, international visitors and long stay international students) in Australia was $207.7 billion. This exceeds the THRIVE 2030 spend target of $166 billion by 2024. Of this, $82.5 billion was spent in regional Australia, above the target of $70 billion by 2024.
  • While Australians continue to travel, cost of living pressures are having an impact on the way we travel, with Australians travelling domestically doing so closer to home and for shorter periods. Ministers encouraged Australians to continue to explore more of their own iconic and less well-known destinations, especially in regional areas.
  • International visitation to Australia continues to recover – in the year ending December 2023, there were 7.2 million short-term international arrivals to Australia (76 per cent of December 2019 levels). In the month of February 2024, arrivals were at 93 per cent of the pre-COVID comparison month in 2019.
  • Inbound aviation capacity is expected to surpass 2019 levels mid-year.

Ministers agreed that improving accessibility is essential to ensure that people of all abilities can enjoy Australian tourism offerings and experiences. Ministers demonstrated their commitment to accessible tourism by endorsing the WELCOME Framework, a new practical guide to help tourism businesses cater for the needs of people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

Minister Healy of Queensland shared learnings from the Queensland’s Year of Accessible Tourism and it was encouraging to hear about tourism businesses in QLD that are already making changes to become more accessible.

Ministers noted new data from Tourism Research Australia showing that in the June quarter 2023 alone, the total value of domestic travel by people with accessibility needs and people who travelled with them was $6.8 billion, representing 21 per cent of total domestic tourism spend in that quarter.  This represents a growth opportunity for tourism businesses in Australia.

Ministers agreed to continue to meet throughout the year to discuss opportunities and emerging issues for Australia’s visitor economy.

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