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How Much Money Does Australia Make From Tourism


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Avrit Gonsalves



Australia, known for its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and vibrant cities, has long been a popular tourist destination. With its sunny beaches, iconic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef, and unique wildlife experiences, it’s no wonder that people from all over the world flock to the land down under.


But tourism in Australia is not just about breathtaking scenery and famous attractions. It plays a significant role in the country’s economy, contributing billions of dollars annually. From creating jobs to promoting local businesses, tourism has become a vital industry that drives economic growth and development.


In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of tourism in Australia, including its economic importance, revenue sources, and the impact of domestic and international visitors. We will also explore some of the major tourist destinations and government initiatives aimed at promoting tourism. Finally, we will discuss the challenges and opportunities the industry faces as it continues to evolve.


So, let’s take a closer look at how much money Australia makes from its flourishing tourism sector and the factors that contribute to its success.


Importance of Tourism in Australia’s Economy

Tourism plays a crucial role in Australia’s economy, contributing significantly to its GDP and employment. It is one of the largest sectors, supporting businesses across various industries such as hospitality, transportation, retail, and entertainment.


One of the primary reasons for tourism’s importance is its ability to generate revenue. In 2019, tourism contributed approximately AUD 60 billion in export earnings, making it one of the highest export earners for the country. This revenue helps stimulate economic growth and supports various government initiatives.


Moreover, tourism creates employment opportunities for millions of Australians. From hotel staff and tour operators to restaurant and retail workers, the industry supports a wide range of jobs, both directly and indirectly. The employment opportunities provided by tourism are particularly important in regional areas, where tourism is often a significant driver of local economies.


Additionally, tourism contributes to the development of infrastructure and amenities. To keep up with the increasing number of tourists, Australia invests in building and upgrading transportation systems, accommodation, and tourist facilities. These developments not only cater to tourists but also improve the quality of life for local residents.


Besides the economic benefits, tourism also promotes cultural exchange and understanding. As people from different countries visit Australia, they have the opportunity to learn about its rich indigenous heritage, cultural traditions, and diverse communities. This cultural exchange fosters mutual respect and appreciation, promoting a more inclusive and tolerant society.


Overall, the importance of tourism in Australia’s economy cannot be underestimated. It drives economic growth, creates jobs, supports local businesses, and promotes cultural understanding. As tourism continues to flourish, it is crucial to nurture and sustain this industry to reap its long-term benefits.


Breakdown of Tourism Revenue Sources

The revenue generated from tourism in Australia comes from a variety of sources, both domestic and international. Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown of these revenue sources:


1. Domestic Tourism:


Domestic tourism refers to travel and spending by residents within their own country. It plays a significant role in Australia’s tourism revenue. Australians have a strong culture of traveling domestically, exploring different states and territories. Domestic tourists contribute to the economy through spending on accommodation, dining, attractions, and transportation. In recent years, the rise of weekend getaways, road trips, and experiential travel has further boosted domestic tourism in Australia.


2. International Tourism:


International tourism is another crucial revenue source for Australia. Visitors from overseas come to experience the country’s unique natural beauty, vibrant cities, and cultural offerings. These international visitors contribute to the economy through their spending on accommodation, dining, shopping, tours, and activities. The weak Australian dollar often makes it an attractive destination for international tourists, as they get more value for their money.


3. International Education:


Education tourism, driven by international students studying in Australia, also contributes significantly to the tourism revenue. Australia is a highly sought-after destination for international students, with its world-class universities and high-quality education system. These students not only pay tuition fees but also spend on accommodation, living expenses, and leisure activities, contributing to the overall tourism revenue.


4. Business Travel:


Australia’s thriving business sector attracts a substantial number of international travelers for conferences, meetings, and corporate events. Business travelers spend on accommodation, dining, transportation, and other services, boosting the tourism revenue. Additionally, these business trips often lead to future leisure travel as travelers may extend their stay to explore the country.


Overall, the revenue generated from tourism in Australia is a combination of domestic tourism, international tourism, international education, and business travel. This diversified revenue base helps to sustain the tourism industry and contributes to the country’s economic growth and development.


Contribution of Domestic Tourism

Domestic tourism plays a significant role in driving the tourism industry in Australia. It refers to travel and spending by residents within their own country. Let’s explore the contribution of domestic tourism to Australia’s economy:


1. Economic Impact:


Domestic tourism is a major revenue generator for Australia. Australians have a strong appetite for travel and exploring their own backyard. They contribute to the economy through spending on accommodation, transportation, dining, shopping, and various tourism-related activities. The money spent by domestic tourists not only supports local businesses but also creates employment opportunities across different sectors.


2. Regional Development:


Domestic tourism is particularly beneficial for regional areas of Australia. These regions often rely heavily on tourism to sustain their local economies. With many Australians opting for road trips, weekend getaways, and holidays in rural and remote locations, domestic tourism helps spread the economic benefits beyond major cities. It supports local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and artisans, providing a much-needed boost to regional communities.


3. Cultural Exchange:


Domestic tourism also promotes cultural exchange within Australia. As Australians travel to different states and territories, they have the opportunity to experience the unique cultural heritage and traditions of different regions. This fosters a sense of national identity and appreciation for the diverse landscapes and cultures across the country.


4. Environmental Stewardship:


Domestic tourism encourages Australians to appreciate and cherish their natural environment. With the abundance of national parks, protected areas, and World Heritage sites, domestic travelers have the opportunity to connect with nature and explore the country’s ecological wonders. This promotes environmental stewardship and encourages sustainable practices, ensuring the preservation of Australia’s pristine landscapes for future generations.


5. Support for Small Businesses:


Domestic tourism provides a platform for small businesses to thrive. Whether it’s boutique accommodation, local cafes, or unique experiences, domestic travelers often seek out authentic and locally-owned businesses. This creates opportunities for entrepreneurs and contributes to the diversity and vibrancy of the tourism industry.


Overall, domestic tourism is a vital component of Australia’s tourism industry. It not only contributes to the economy but also supports regional development, promotes cultural exchange, encourages environmental stewardship, and fosters the growth of small businesses. Embracing domestic tourism is key to ensuring the continued success and sustainability of the Australian tourism sector.


Impact of International Tourism

International tourism plays a significant role in shaping Australia’s economy and culture. The influx of international visitors brings numerous benefits and impacts to the country. Let’s explore the impact of international tourism in Australia:


1. Economic Boost:


International tourism contributes significantly to Australia’s economy. The influx of international visitors brings in foreign exchange through their spending on accommodation, dining, shopping, transportation, and attractions. This revenue injection supports local businesses, stimulates job creation, and drives economic growth. In 2019 alone, international tourism contributed billions of dollars to the country’s GDP, making it a crucial component of Australia’s economy.


2. Job Creation:


The growth of international tourism leads to job creation in various sectors. From tour operators and hospitality staff to retail workers and transportation providers, the tourism industry creates employment opportunities for a wide range of skilled and unskilled workers. This is particularly beneficial for local communities, especially in regions heavily reliant on tourism.


3. Cultural Exchange:


International tourism promotes cultural exchange and understanding. As visitors from different countries explore Australia, they learn about the country’s rich history, vibrant indigenous cultures, and diverse communities. This cultural exchange fosters mutual respect, appreciation, and a deeper understanding of different cultures, contributing to a more inclusive and tolerant society.


4. Promotion of Australian Identity:


International travelers often have a positive impact on the promotion of Australia’s identity and image. They share their experiences, photos, and stories with their friends and families back home, creating an organic form of marketing and positive word-of-mouth. This exposure helps in attracting more international visitors to the country and further boosting tourism revenue.


5. Infrastructure Development:


The presence of international tourists drives the development and improvement of infrastructure and amenities. To accommodate the growing number of visitors, investments are made in expanding airports, enhancing transportation networks, and upgrading tourist facilities. These infrastructure developments not only benefit tourists but also improve the quality of life for local residents.


6. Conservation and Environmental Awareness:


International tourism raises awareness about the importance of conservation and environmental sustainability in Australia. Visitors come to experience the country’s unique natural wonders, such as the Great Barrier Reef and national parks, and gain a firsthand understanding of the need to protect these fragile ecosystems. This awareness can lead to increased conservation efforts and the adoption of sustainable practices in the tourism industry.


7. International Diplomacy:


International tourism plays a role in fostering international diplomacy and relationships. As visitors from different countries visit Australia, interactions and cultural exchanges occur, promoting goodwill and understanding between nations. This can have positive implications for international cooperation, trade, and diplomacy.


The impact of international tourism on Australia is undeniable. It brings economic benefits, creates employment opportunities, promotes cultural exchange, fosters environmental awareness, and enhances Australia’s global identity. As the country continues to attract international visitors, it is essential to manage tourism sustainably and ensure a positive and enriching experience for both tourists and local communities.


Major Tourist Destinations in Australia

Australia is blessed with a diverse array of tourist destinations that capture the imagination of visitors from around the world. From iconic landmarks to stunning natural wonders, here are some of the top tourist destinations in Australia:


1. Sydney:


Sydney, the largest city in Australia, is a must-visit destination. Its most famous landmark, the Sydney Opera House, is recognized worldwide. Visitors can explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, relax on the picturesque beaches of Bondi and Manly, and take in panoramic views from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


2. Great Barrier Reef:


The Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland, is one of the world’s most remarkable natural wonders. It is the largest coral reef system, home to an abundance of marine life. Visitors can snorkel, dive, or take a scenic flight to witness the breathtaking beauty of the coral gardens and vibrant marine ecosystem.


3. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park:


Located in the heart of Australia’s Red Centre, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is home to the iconic Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). These massive sandstone formations hold deep cultural significance for the indigenous Anangu people. Visitors can witness the stunning sunrise or sunset over Uluru and learn about the rich Aboriginal culture.


4. Melbourne:


Melbourne, known for its vibrant arts scene, coffee culture, and multicultural atmosphere, is a cultural hub that offers a mix of historic and modern attractions. Visitors can explore the laneways adorned with street art, visit internationally renowned museums, enjoy the bustling food and wine scene, and attend sporting events at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.


5. Great Ocean Road:


The Great Ocean Road is a scenic coastal drive in Victoria, renowned for its stunning coastal landscapes and iconic landmarks. Visitors can marvel at the Twelve Apostles, limestone stacks rising from the Southern Ocean, visit picturesque seaside towns like Lorne and Apollo Bay, and witness the dramatic cliffs and pristine beaches along the way.


6. Kakadu National Park:


Kakadu National Park, located in the Northern Territory, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and showcases Australia’s rich natural and cultural heritage. Visitors can explore ancient Aboriginal rock art, cruise along rivers teeming with wildlife, witness magnificent waterfalls, and immerse themselves in the diverse landscapes of this pristine wilderness.


7. Brisbane and the Gold Coast:


Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, offers a vibrant city experience with its thriving cultural scene and beautiful riverside setting. Just south of Brisbane lies the Gold Coast, famous for its stunning beaches, theme parks, and vibrant nightlife. Visitors can enjoy adventurous water sports, visit wildlife sanctuaries, and indulge in shopping and entertainment.


These are just a few examples of the many amazing tourist destinations in Australia. From natural wonders to bustling cities and cultural experiences, Australia offers something for every traveler, inviting them to explore its diverse landscapes and immerse themselves in unique experiences.


Government Initiatives to Promote Tourism

The Australian government recognizes the importance of tourism and has implemented various initiatives to promote and support the industry. These initiatives aim to attract international visitors, boost domestic tourism, enhance visitor experiences, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the sector. Here are some significant government initiatives to promote tourism:


1. Tourism Australia:


Tourism Australia, the government agency responsible for promoting Australia as a tourism destination, runs various marketing campaigns both domestically and internationally. These campaigns showcase the country’s unique attractions, natural wonders, cultural experiences, and indigenous heritage to inspire travelers to visit Australia.


2. Working Holiday Visa Program:


Australia’s Working Holiday Visa program encourages young travelers from eligible countries to explore the country while working and studying. This initiative not only promotes tourism but also contributes to the country’s labor force by providing much-needed workforce support in various sectors, especially in regional areas.


3. Infrastructure Development:


The government invests in infrastructure development to enhance visitor experiences and support tourism growth. This includes upgrading airports, expanding transportation networks, improving national parks and tourist facilities, and investing in cultural and heritage sites. These infrastructure developments provide world-class facilities and amenities for both domestic and international tourists.


4. Tourism Research and Data Analysis:


The government places importance on research and data analysis to understand visitor trends, preferences, and market conditions. This data helps in shaping strategic marketing initiatives, identifying target markets, and adapting tourism offerings to meet visitor demands. It also helps in monitoring the industry’s performance and planning future tourism policies and investments.


5. Regional Tourism Support:


The government provides funding and support to regional tourism organizations to promote and develop tourism in their respective areas. These initiatives aim to spread the tourism benefits to regional communities, creating employment, fostering economic growth, and showcasing unique local attractions and experiences.


6. Indigenous Tourism Development:


The Australian government recognizes the cultural and economic significance of indigenous tourism and supports initiatives that promote and showcase indigenous experiences. This includes investing in indigenous-owned tourism businesses, preserving cultural sites, and creating employment opportunities for indigenous communities through tourism ventures.


7. Tourism Accreditation and Quality Assurance:


The government encourages tourism businesses to meet accreditation and quality standards through programs such as the Australian Tourism Accreditation Program. This ensures that visitors can have confidence in the quality and reliability of tourism services and experiences in Australia, enhancing their overall satisfaction.


These government initiatives, along with partnerships with industry stakeholders, aim to position Australia as a competitive and sustainable tourism destination. By promoting Australia’s unique offerings, investing in infrastructure, supporting regional tourism, and ensuring quality experiences, the government plays a vital role in the growth and success of the tourism industry.


Challenges and Opportunities in the Tourism Sector

The tourism sector in Australia faces a range of challenges, but it also presents numerous opportunities for growth and development. Let’s delve into some of the key challenges and opportunities in the tourism industry:



1. Seasonality: One of the challenges in the tourism sector is the seasonal nature of travel. Many popular tourist destinations experience peak seasons, resulting in overcrowding and increased prices, while off-peak seasons may struggle with reduced visitor numbers. Finding ways to distribute tourism throughout the year can help address these challenges. 2. Sustainability and Environmental Impact: With a growing number of visitors, there is an increasing concern about the environmental impact of tourism. Balancing the preservation of natural resources and wildlife habitats with the desire to attract tourists requires sustainable practices, responsible tourism initiatives, and ongoing conservation efforts. 3. Infrastructure and Accessibility: Maintaining and developing infrastructure to cater to the needs of tourists is vital. Investments in transportation, accommodation, and tourist attractions are necessary to meet the growing demands of visitors, particularly in remote and regional areas. 4. Changing Travel Patterns: The tourism industry must adapt to changing travel patterns and consumer preferences. Technological advancements, rise in online travel bookings, and the popularity of alternative accommodations such as Airbnb have reshaped the way people travel. To remain competitive, businesses need to embrace digital platforms and offer unique, personalized experiences.


1. Growing Asian Tourism Market: Australia has the opportunity to tap into the growing Asian tourism market, particularly from countries like China, India, and Southeast Asian nations, which have emerging middle classes with increasing disposable incomes. Tailoring marketing strategies, providing culturally appropriate services, and offering specialized experiences can attract visitors from these markets. 2. Indigenous Tourism: Indigenous tourism presents a significant opportunity to showcase Australia’s unique cultural heritage and strengthen ties with indigenous communities. Investing in indigenous-owned and operated tourism businesses, promoting authentic cultural experiences, and fostering partnerships with indigenous communities can contribute to economic development and cultural preservation. 3. Adventure and Eco-Tourism: Australia’s vast landscapes provide opportunities for adventure and eco-tourism. Offering activities such as hiking, whale watching, surfing, and exploring national parks can attract nature enthusiasts seeking sustainable and immersive experiences. 4. Investment in Regional Tourism: Regional tourism offers immense potential for growth. Investing in infrastructure, promoting lesser-known destinations, and developing niche tourism products can encourage visitors to explore beyond major cities and contribute to the economic development of regional areas. 5. Collaboration and Partnerships: Collaboration among industry stakeholders, government agencies, and local communities is essential for the sustainable growth of the tourism sector. Creating partnerships to develop innovative tourism products, engage in marketing initiatives, and address common challenges can result in overall industry advancement. While the tourism sector in Australia faces challenges such as seasonality, sustainability, and infrastructure, there are significant opportunities in emerging markets, indigenous tourism, adventure, and regional development. By addressing challenges and capitalizing on opportunities, Australia can continue to thrive as a diverse and desirable tourism destination.



Tourism plays a vital role in Australia’s economy, driving growth, creating jobs, and contributing billions of dollars in revenue. The country’s diverse landscapes, iconic landmarks, and rich cultural heritage make it a popular destination for both domestic and international travelers. However, the tourism sector also faces various challenges that require strategic approaches and collaborative efforts.


Despite challenges such as seasonality, sustainability, and infrastructure, the tourism industry in Australia holds immense opportunities for growth. The growing Asian tourism market, indigenous tourism experiences, adventure and eco-tourism, and investment in regional areas present avenues for attracting diverse visitors and stimulating economic development.


The Australian government’s initiatives to promote tourism, such as Tourism Australia’s marketing campaigns, the Working Holiday Visa program, and support for regional tourism, demonstrate a commitment to the sector’s growth and sustainability. Continued investment in infrastructure, research, and quality assurance can further enhance the visitor experience and ensure Australia remains a competitive and desirable destination.


To maximize the benefits of tourism, it is crucial to balance economic development with environmental sustainability and the preservation of cultural heritage. Responsible tourism practices, community engagement, and the promotion of indigenous tourism can foster a more inclusive and respectful industry.


As Australia continues to evolve as a leading tourism destination, it is important for industry stakeholders, government bodies, and local communities to collaborate and strategize collectively. By working together, addressing challenges, and seizing opportunities, Australia can maintain its position as an attractive and sustainable tourism destination for generations to come.