The visitor economy was Australia’s fourth largest export sector. It employed almost 700,000 people and achieved nearly $140 billion in visitor spend in 2019. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the sector. It faces a great deal of uncertainty as it works towards recovery.

The visitor economy covers:

  • domestic and international tourism
  • international student, business and leisure travellers
  • associated industries such as hospitality, aviation and accommodation.

pie chart showing the total visitor economy in 2019
*The $4.7 billion in other spend comprises $0.7 billion from international travel and $4.1 billion from domestic travel. The main domestic categories are personal travel ($1.8 billion), providing transport ($0.8 billion), attending a funeral ($0.7 billion) and education ($0.6 billion).

Expert panel

Minister Tehan announced the Reimagining the Visitor Economy Expert Panel on 30 April 2021.

Austrade appointed former federal Minister for Tourism, the Hon. Martin Ferguson AM, to lead the panel. They will help chart a course for sustainable long-term growth of the visitor economy after the devastating impact of COVID-19.

Other panel members are:

  • Leanne Coddington, Chief Executive Officer of Tourism and Events Queensland
  • Karyn Kent, Chief Executive of StudyAdelaide
  • Kate Lamont AM, founder of Lamont’s Wine and Food, Western Australia
  • Juan Walker, owner-operator of Walkabout Cultural Adventures, Queensland

Read the biographies (PDF 139KB).

Scope of work

The Expert Panel will advise industry and government on the future of Australia’s visitor economy. This will help the government shape a policy framework that can guide the sector through longer term transformation to sustainable growth.

The panel’s report will build on the extensive work undertaken across industry and governments during 2018-2020. This work to develop the next long-term strategy for the visitor economy, Tourism 2030, was put on hold due to COVID-19.

Read the Terms of Reference for Reimagining the Visitor Economy (PDF 161kB)

Have your say

The panel Chair is consulting widely to identify what the visitor economy needs for sustainable growth.

We welcome input from businesses, individuals and governments.

  • Please provide short responses with insights and solutions to the questions asked in the Reimagining the Visitor Economy Discussion Paper (PDF 166kB)
  • We accept responses via written submission to
  • Submissions close 5:00 pm Friday 11 June 2021.
  • We will publish your submissions on this website unless you advise otherwise. Please let us know in your covering email if you wish for your submission to remain confidential.

Alternatively, you may wish to engage through the Visitor Economy Stakeholder Consultation Survey.

Opportunities for the Visitor Economy research report

We commissioned the Opportunities for the Visitor Economy research report to assist the work of the Expert Panel. The report examines trends and explores opportunities to position the visitor economy to achieve long-term sustainable growth. It finds that the visitor economy should build its future by:

  • diversifying its markets
  • modernising its offer, assets and workforce
  • collaborating at all levels.

Contact us

Email the Reimagining the Visitor Economy team at