Insight – Helping the visitor economy to THRIVE

28 March 2022

The Government’s strategy for the long-term growth of Australia’s visitor economy, THRIVE 2030, has been launched.

The visitor economy is much more than just tourism. It comprises:

  • visiting friends and relatives
  • travel for business, work or attending an event
  • international education
  • leisure travel.

Industry-led and government-enabled, THRIVE 2030 is expected to grow the value of the visitor economy to $230 billion by 2030.

THRIVE 2030 envisages a visitor economy that:

  • delivers quality experiences for visitors
  • comprises businesses that are globally competitive, profitable and can grow sustainably
  • provides jobs, growth and infrastructure that benefit Australian communities
  • enhances Australia’s reputation as a great place to visit, study and do business.

A strong bridge between Australia and the world

Before 2020, the visitor economy was Australia’s fourth largest export sector. Only coal, iron ore and gas contributed more to Australia's economy.

But the visitor economy also makes a social and cultural contribution to Australia. Through it, we forge strong, long-lasting connections with people from around the world.

The visitor economy helps fund infrastructure like airports, roads and hotels that benefits Australians and visitors. It provides valuable job opportunities, particularly in regional areas.

Adapting to a changing landscape

COVID-19 had a devastating impact on the visitor economy. But even before the pandemic, there were structural changes that have been brought into sharper focus during the past two years.

One of these is workforce challenges. We need to find ways to attract and train new people and promote the visitor economy as a career of choice.

Travellers’ tastes have also been changing. They are increasingly seeking authentic, sustainable destinations where they can fully experience culture and the natural environment. Older travellers, families with small children, and travellers with disability need accessible infrastructure. There is a growing segment of the market seeking luxurious, “bucket list” experiences. Travellers also want to easily book and get clear information on their mobile devices and make better use of technology.

Preparing the sector for future success

THRIVE 2030 has benefited from extensive research and consultation. It reflects industry views and ideas on what the sector needs to succeed. It rests on three key pillars:

  • Diversifying markets, experiences and destinations. This includes the respectful engagement of First Nations peoples and cultures.
  • Modernising the visitor economy workforce, infrastructure and business practices.
  • Collaborating with other businesses, within and across governments, and between industry, the community and government. This will be informed by high-quality data and insights.

Regaining lost ground

THRIVE 2030 has a comprehensive action plan. The first phase of the strategy focuses on recovery. It involves 66 actions across 7 policy priorities for the Commonwealth, states and territories, and industry. 

During this initial recovery phase, the strategy proposes:

  • rebuilding the visitor economy workforce
  • developing compelling destinations
  • improving the availability of data to support business viability and attracting new investment.

As the sector regains momentum, the focus will shift to expanding international visitor markets and improving business practices.

Finally, THRIVE 2030 will foster the conditions for long-term sustainable growth. It will do this by ensuring our visitor economy businesses are competitive, innovative and unique.

Australia’s visitor economy already has what it needs to succeed – stunning natural assets, unique cultures, excellent transport and education infrastructure, and a laidback lifestyle.

THRIVE 2030 aims to help the visitor economy regain its footing after the challenges of the past and stride with confidence into the future.

Read the THRIVE 2030 strategy