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TRA releases National & State Tourism

National Tourism Satellite Account 2019–20, Tourism Research Australia, March 2021

The Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) examines Australia’s tourism performance through an economic lens. This summary of the TSA looks at the impacts of COVID-19 on this performance and sheds light on where these were felt most deeply.

We use TSA data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to report on:

  • the value of goods and services consumed by visitors
  • the resulting contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), international trade, and employment.

This information helps industry and governments monitor performance and support strategies for recovery and future growth.

Disruptions in the tourism sector

Australia’s tourism industry experienced sustained growth from 2009 to 2019. Previous TSA’s, therefore, held a positive outlook. This is in stark contrast to the present situation.

The impacts of COVID-19 on the visitor economy are unprecedented. Sudden restrictions to mobility have caused immediate and severe disruptions to the tourism sector. These include:

  • the closing of international borders which has significantly reduced international arrivals
  • state border closures and internal mobility restrictions that have significantly impacted the domestic tourism markets. Both interstate and intrastate
  • people being more hesitant to travel due to physical distancing and the increased need for safety.

Key results

Total tourism consumption fell by 19% or $29.5 billion in 2019–20. This resulted in:

  • $50.4 billion in direct tourism GDP to the economy. This was 18% or $10.8 billion less than the previous year
  • tourism GDP as a share of the national economy falling from 3.1% in 2018–19 to 2.5% in 2019–20
  • direct tourism employment of 621,000 people. This was 4.8% of the Australian workforce and 6.6% lower than in 2018–19
  • tourism exports falling to $31.2 billion. This is down 21% from 2018–19. Tourism exports are from international visitors spending money on Australian goods and services
  • tourism imports falling to $42.1 billion. This is down 27.8% from 2018–19. Tourism imports are the money Australian residents spend when travelling overseas.

Notes on the data

The TSA produced by the ABS is the basis for this report.

The TSA summarises industry performance over the entire financial year it, therefore, tends to smooth out fluctuations in performance. Fluctuations in performance were a significant issue for 2019–2020. For that financial year, tourism performance for the first two quarters was strong. However for the second half of 2019–20:

  • Australia’s summer bushfires had significant impacts on tourism activity during the early part of 2020. This was during what would normally be peak trading periods.
  • COVID-19 has had a major impact on the visitor economy from February 2020. This saw a dramatic slowdown in tourism activity in the June quarter of 2020.

See also: State Tourism Satellite Account 2019-20

Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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