21 February 2016
Tourism is a major contributor to the Australian economy - it's one of five key "super-growth" sectors for the next decade and is currently supporting around a million jobs, or one in 12 workers in Australia.
That's why promoting Australia as a desirable tourist destination is an important focus of the inaugural Australia United States Business Week (AUSBW), which is being held in the US from
16 - 26 February.
I will be leading the two major tourism events of AUSBW, the Australian Tourism Summit 2016 and Australia Marketplace 2016, which will promote Australia as a holiday destination to North American travel buyers and tourism industry leaders.
Australia is an increasingly attractive destination for US visitors and it is estimated the value of the US market to Australia could hit between AU$4.5 and $5.5 billion by 2020.
However, realising this growth will depend on how effectively Australia can be marketed to North Americans and events such as AUSBW are vital.
The latest instalment of Tourism Australia's There's Nothing Like Australia campaign which features Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth promoting Australia's key advantage - our aquatic and coastal attractions - was launched in the US last month and is a good example of how we are growing our key markets.
The US is a very important market - it's currently Australia's fourth largest inbound visitor market and is also third most valuable in terms of spending, with annual growth of around 10 per cent.
A record number of American tourists visited Australia in the year ending June 2015, about 577,000 visitors, representing growth of more than 9 per cent over the year.
Tourism is one of our top services exports and a major contributor to the Australian economy, with total spending of AU$34.8 billion. A record number of visitors - about 7.1 million people - arrived in Australia in the year ending June 2015.
With tourism growth over the same year at seven per cent - well above the national average - it's clear to see tourism is a vital economic driver for Australia.
The Federal Government has facilitated this growth through measures including visa reform, increased flight capacity, a big push in targeted international marketing and a strong emphasis on increasing investment in tourism infrastructure.
We must continue this work to ensure that the inhibitors to growth are removed so the industry can continue to prosper and these are some of the issues I will be discussing at AUSBW.
The Australian Tourism Summit will consist of presentations and discussions on a broad range of topics related to the Australian market, including economic and media trends, as well as the growing importance of luxury offerings.
Australia Marketplace 2016 will bring together buyers from over 80 North American travel companies with around 95 new and established Australian tourism products for two days of face-to-face meetings and networking opportunities.
These events are all very important if we are to realise the full potential of the tourism industry and grow future visitation from the key North American market.