Minister for Trade and Investment, and the minister responsible for tourism Andrew Robb, welcomed figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing for the year ending March 2015, international arrivals increased eight per cent to reach seven million arrivals for the first time.

Growth was driven by strong increases in leisure visitors in the March quarter 2015, spurred by the ICC Cricket World Cup and the Chinese New Year. Significant contributors to growth this quarter included India (up 42 percent), China (up 19.3 per cent) and the United Kingdom (up 8.4 per cent).

Government initiatives supporting tourism growth during this period included the trialling of a joint visa for international visitors to Australia and New Zealand during the Cricket World Cup, and a recently concluded air services deal that doubled air capacity between Australia and China in time for Chinese New Year.

“This result confirms that tourism is one of Australia’s great strengths and is a major vote of confidence in a sector that can be Australia’s fastest growing this decade,” Mr Robb said.

“The Government continues to support the tourism industry including a renewed focus on visa reform, investment attraction and support for international marketing. Recent measures to support the tourism sector announced in the Northern Australia White Paper will ensure the industry can build on this momentum towards 2020,” Mr Robb said.

Key measures supporting tourism announced in the Northern Australia White Paper:

  • Reforms to visitor visas from China and India – introduction of a 10-year validity visa for Chinese visitors and further roll out of e-lodgement for China and India; trialling a fast track visa service and a trial of Chinese language lodgement of visitor visa applications.
  • Allowing backpackers to work for 12 (instead of six) months with a single northern employer.
  • Expanding the Working Holiday Maker Visa Programme to allow participants to work for longer in high demand areas in northern Australia, with a small number allowed a second year on their visa if they work in northern tourism.
  • $15.8 million to extend management advice and other business support services to businesses in the northern tourism industry under the Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Programme.

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