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The Value of Tourism

Exploring the challenges and optimism of Australian tourism as it embarks on the recovery journey

Tourism’s importance to Australia and Australians is multifaceted, contributing to Australia’s economy, the employment of one million Australians, while contributing to Brand Australia, solidifying our national identity and image to the rest of the world. This paper outlines the economic significance of the tourism sector to Australia, including its importance to the regions and its role in supporting Australia’s growth agenda.

However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian tourism sector has been hit particularly hard. Domestic and international travel restrictions, together with health concerns, have resulted in severe impacts to Australian tourism with a loss of almost $80 billion in visitor expenditure in 2020, devastating job losses and business closures. There remains a high degree of uncertainty around international and domestic borders which impacts confidence and the industry’s recovery.

While COVID has dealt the tourism sector a devastating blow, the loss of travel to connect with friends and family, colleagues and customers has brought a spotlight to the economic and social value of the tourism to the Australian economy and to Australians.

Deloitte Access Economics partnered with Tourism Australia to deliver a report on the Value of Tourism. The report aims to bring fresh evidence and perspectives to tourism’s importance to Australia and Australians, as a vital industry and crucial to Australia’s economic prosperity, while contributing to Brand Australia, solidifying our national identity and image to the rest of the world.

We invite you to read the report, and help build support and momentum for the sector as it embarks on the road ahead.

Key headlines include:

Australia is a nation of travellers
Australians are exceptionally well travelled by world standards. In 2019, Australians took an average of four domestic overnight trips per person and ten day trips. This is double the number of domestic trips per US resident, and one and a half times the domestic trips per New Zealand resident.

Tourism is an Australian success story
The Australian tourism sector grew at almost twice the rate of the broader Australian economy in the five years prior to 2018-19, outpacing the growth of the Australian economy.

Australia attracts some of the world’s most coveted travellers
Australia is one of the top ten tourism earners in the world and attracts the highest yielding travellers. On average, international travellers who visit Australia spend more per person than they do when they visit other destinations.

Drought, bushfires and COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on Australian tourism
The tourism economy was heavily hit in 2020, with a total loss of almost $80 billion in tourism revenue in just one year.

Tourism is an integral part of Australia’s economy
In 2018-19, tourism’s share of Australian total GDP was 3.1 per cent, higher than the share of agriculture, forestry and fishing, utilities and information, media and communication.  One in every eight businesses across the country was in the tourism businesses and one in twelve Australians were employed in the tourism sector in 2018-19. Australia’s international tourism receipts represent nearly 15 per cent of total exports, and pre-pandemic, represented 70 per cent of service exports.

Tourism is even more important to Australia’s regions
Australia’s regions are front and centre of tourism experiences in the country, with 44 cents of every tourism dollar spent in regional destinations. While tourism jobs can be found right across the nation, tourism jobs are a mainstay of employment in parts of regional Australia, comprising as many as six in ten jobs.

Tourism’s role in supporting Australia’s growth agenda
Tourism creates a valuable pool of Australia alumni who can share their experiences with others and who may return to visit Australia. Tourism also plays important roles in the broader economy, driving consumer demand for Australia’s products overseas, as well as generating interest to invest, study and work in Australia.

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