The Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, today welcomed the Productivity Commission’s (the Commission) release of its Australia’s International Tourism Industry research paper.

The Commission set out to examine trends, drivers and barriers to growth in the Australian international tourism industry.

Mr Robb said this important work not only reinforced the value and strength of Australia’s tourism industry, but also provided confidence that the government’s policy priorities were targeting the right areas.

“Tourism generates over $100 billion of revenue, directly and indirectly employs one million Australians and is our largest services export. Tourism is one of Australia’s strengths and as a government we are determined to back our strengths,” Mr Robb said.

Central to the paper was its commentary on the aviation sector, with international visitors reliant on efficient aviation links to access Australia. Some three million additional airline seats are required annually into Australia by 2020 – the equivalent of 120 more A380s each week.

The report underscores the importance of further liberalising air services agreements to remove constraints in key markets, such as the recent tripling of air capacity between Australia and China secured in January.  Negotiations will occur with Qatar, Malaysia and Indonesia this year.

Beyond the aviation sector, the paper recognised the crucial need for investment in high quality tourism infrastructure, accommodation, and recreational, cultural and heritage assets.

“I was particularly pleased to see the emphasis the Commission placed on tourism investment; one of five priority areas for investment identified by the government. We need up to another 20,000 high quality rooms, or the equivalent of 16 new hotels per year by 2020,” Mr Robb said.

“It is critical that we review and reform development approval frameworks at all levels of government and remove unnecessary barriers to new investment,” he said.

Mr Robb also welcomed the Commission’s observation that Australia’s visitor visa settings should be as efficient as possible in dealing with key source countries like China, with reference made to the recent online visa lodgement trial announced for China and the three-year, multiple-entry visa that has been introduced for Chinese business visitors.

The Commission also acknowledged the important role Tourism Australia plays in tourism-related market analysis and destination marketing, and underscores the importance of coordinating efforts across government and industry in this area.

“The success of Australian tourism is dependent on the world knowing the high quality of what we have to offer, especially to the emerging markets of Asia. Tourism Australia is absolutely critical to this role and its effectiveness is highlighted by the international awards it has won,” Mr Robb said.

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