Communique – Tourism Ministers’ Meeting, Cairns

  • Media release

Tourism Ministers met in Cairns to discuss their ongoing leadership and commitment to supporting Australia’s visitor economy to grow sustainably. Chaired by Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator the Hon Don Farrell, the meeting was co-hosted by the Hon Stirling Hinchliffe MP from Queensland. Also attending was the Hon John Graham MLC from New South Wales, the Hon Joel Bowden MLA from the Northern Territory, the Hon Zoe Bettison MP from South Australia, the Hon Jeremy Rockliff MP Premier from Tasmania, Mr Steve Dimopoulos MP from Victoria, and the Hon Rita Saffioti MLA from Western Australia. Jonathan Kobus, Executive Branch Manager of VisitCanberra, attended on behalf of Chief Minister Andrew Barr of the Australian Capital Territory.

Ministers affirmed their support to implement THRIVE 2030, Australia’s national strategy for the long-term sustainable growth of the visitor economy. At the mid-way point of Phase 1, visitor economy expenditure targets to achieve by the end of 2024 have already been exceeded, with $191.4 billion of spend in the year ending June 2023, of which $79.9 billion was spent in regional Australia.

Ministers agreed sustainability is essential for the future success and competitiveness of Australia’s visitor economy. Visitors are increasingly asking that world-class services are delivered in a way that is sensitive to the environment, to our culture and to our communities’ needs. Ministers demonstrated their collective commitment to progress action on making tourism more sustainable by launching the National Sustainability Framework, the first of its kind for Australian tourism. Ministers welcomed the release of a Sustainability Toolkit, which will provide free and practical information to tourism businesses to start or continue their sustainability journey.

Ministers discussed current conditions in the visitor economy, including steady domestic tourism figures and ongoing recovery in international visitor numbers. It was noted that:

  • Visitor economy expenditure has recovered more strongly than visitor numbers following the pandemic, reflecting travel costs and progressive recovery of higher average spend purposes of travel, such as leisure travellers and international students.
  • The success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the reopening of China’s border earlier this year has contributed to visitor expenditure.
  • The return of working holiday makers and international students have eased some of the workforce pressures in the visitor economy, however the challenges of having the right skills remain. Ministers noted investment in the National Skills Agreement to meet skills needs.
  • Insurance accessibility and affordability continues to be a challenge for visitor economy businesses. Ministers welcomed recent partnerships between tourism industry associations and the Insurance Council of Australia to better understand and address challenges with insurance affordability for tourism businesses, however noted there was still a need for further work to be done.

Ministers discussed work under THRIVE 2030 to build markets and attract visitors, and Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director, Tourism Australia, provided an update on Tourism Australia’s campaigns. Ministers noted Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 highlighted opportunities across Southeast Asia to grow inbound tourism, alongside Governments and industries’ renewed efforts to welcome more travellers from Australia’s more mature international markets.

Ministers will continue to meet regularly in 2024 to discuss opportunities and address challenges for Australia’s visitor economy.

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