Tracking Tourism 2020

Introduced in 2011, the Tourism 2020 strategy is a joint partnership between the Australian Government and the tourism industry with a goal to double overnight expenditure to between $115 billion and $140 billion by the end of 2020. The strategy also set a number of underlying ‘supply side targets’ to enable the industry to reach this goal, which the government continues to track to ensure the industry remains on target.

The strategy is entering the final stage, ‘achieving the potential’, with a number of the upper bound supply side targets having already been met. Work continues in facilitating international Air Services Agreements and driving tourism infrastructure investment, which will ensure supply continues to meet increasing demand.


Overnight spend

In the year ending December 2018, overnight tourism spend increased 8.1% to reach $116.6 billion, exceeding the lower bound target of $115 billion by 2020. This progress is underpinned by:

  • Domestic overnight spend – up 13% to $72.7 billion and above the lower bound target of $62.9 billion by 2020. Requires growth of 2.7% per annum to reach the upper bound target of $76.6 billion
  • International spend – up 7.4% to $43.9 billion. Requires growth of 20% per annum to reach the upper bound target of $63.4 billion.

As domestic tourism continues to rise, likely driven by a strong economy and lower exchange rates, international spend will need to increase if the upper bound targets are to remain within reach.


The original target set in 2011 was to increase national accommodation supply by 40,000 to 70,000 rooms. This was revised in 2013 to 6,000 to 20,000 additional rooms across the eight state capitals, the Gold Coast and Tropical North Queensland (the ’10 focus regions’). 
Revised tracking shows that the upper bound target has been significantly exceeded with 34,474 additional rooms achieved at 30 June 2018. This growth accounted for 72% of total new rooms in Australia, while the share of rooms in the 10 focus regions increased to 62%.

  2009 2017–18 Growth
10 focus regions 131,694 166,168 34,474
  59.8% 62.0% 72.0%
Total Australia 220,153 268,048 47,895


While strong performance in these regions is always going to drive investment, there also needs to be high quality accommodation offerings through the rest of Australia to encourage visitation.



Tourism 2020 accommodation targets were set using the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Tourist Accommodation (STA), which measured establishments of 15 rooms and above and excluded holiday parks – the STA ceased in 2015–16.

The appointment of STR to conduct the Australian Accommodation Monitor (AAM) enabled more granularity, but the AAM measures establishments with 10 rooms and above, as well as holiday parks. To address these differences, STR have supplied data that match the specifications of the STA.

However, as STR continually revise their numbers when new information is received, their base numbers for 2009 will not match those reported in the STA and data between the two surveys cannot be compared.



International aviation continues to soar, increasing 4.2% to 26.9 million available inbound seats in the year ending December 2018. This is a 63% increase on 2009, so remains above the upper bound target of a 50% increase by 2020.

Even though the target was exceeded, high load factors of 80% mean that work needs to continue to ensure aviation capacity can keep up with continued international demand.

In the domestic context, available seat kilometres remained unchanged at 87.9 billion. This means that aviation has tracked 73% toward the upper bound target of a 30% increase in ASKs by 2020.

While ASKs have decreased, the number of available seats increased marginally which indicates a continued decrease in longer routes, without a decrease in capacity.


In 2017–18, the tourism industry employed 646,000 persons directly, of which 55% were female. This means tourism employment tracked 92% towards the upper bound target of an additional 152,000 persons by 2020.



The Tourism Satellite Account, compiled by the ABS, is used to track tourism employment.

The benchmarking process for the 2017–18 release included a revision of historical numbers, which has affected employment tracking within the industry in the following ways:

  • an increase in recent employment numbers (with 2016–17 revised upwards from 598,200 persons to 617,600 persons).
  • a downward revision in some historical employment figures which has altered the Tourism 2020 base number for 2008–09 – now 506,400 persons (from 539,800 persons).

As a result, employment has jumped substantially from tracking 38.4% towards the upper bound targets in 2016–17, to 91.8% in 2017–18.


More information on Tourism 2020