Opening Tourism Australia’s inaugural Destination Australia Conference, Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, said that tourism can be the fastest growing sector in Australia this decade but it would require “vision, courage and a huge injection of capital”.

Mr Robb, the minister responsible for tourism, said: “It is a bold but attainable ambition due to the never-to-be-repeated phenomenon going on in the region around us. Tourism is already our largest services export.”

“Last year, 100 million Chinese went on an international holiday. The Chinese tell me that by 2020 this is set to double to some 200 million. So the opportunities are immense but they will not fall into our laps.”

Mr Robb said aviation, visas and infrastructure have been identified as priorities in 2015 to ensure Australia can surf the tidal wave of demand ahead.

On the aviation front, the government recently announced a tripling of air capacity over two years between Australia and China from 22,500 seats per weeks to 67,000 per week, secured just in time for the recent Chinese New Year festival.

The Government has secured further aviation talks with Qatar, Malaysia and Indonesia to be held this year.

Stating that a competitive visa system is essential to our tourism success, Mr Robb alluded to work being done to introduce multiple-entry visas for Chinese visitors, and the trials for online visa lodgment for China and India, that will be rolled out by year’s end.

“Since taking office we have more than doubled the number of countries eligible for online visitor visa lodgment, and it is important we continue this work to make it easier for international visitors to inject their tourism dollars into our economy”, he said.

Australia requires an additional 20,000 new rooms – the equivalent of 16 new hotels per year until 2020. To this end, tourism has been identified as one of only 5 National Investment Priorities, with Minister Robb having personally conducted 54 investor roundtables in 23 countries.

“Already from these roundtables we have seen major announcements from the Dalian Wanda group, including the $900 million triple-tower, beachfront resort on the Gold Coast, the ‘Jewel’ and the ‘Goldfields’ building in Circular Quay. These are the sorts of premium investments we will need to ensure tourism can meet its potential as the fastest growing sector this decade,” Mr Robb said.

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