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State of the Industry 2023

The annual State of the Industry report presents a snapshot of Australia’s visitor economy in 2023.

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About this report

This report presents evidence and insights on how Australia's visitor economy performed in 2023. It discusses trends in both demand and supply in the visitor economy. This analysis will help industry and governments understand and adapt to changes and opportunities. To form a thorough review, this report:

  • uses data from many sources
  • reviews trends in both demand and supply of visitor economy services
  • presents contributions from TRA’s research partners.

The report also highlights some of Tourism Research Australia’s new data products.

Key messages

In 2023, Australia’s visitor economy made clear progress towards sustainable growth. This is a core aim of the national strategy for the visitor economy, THRIVE 2030. 

Total tourism spend in Australia increased by 19% in 2023 compared with the previous year. This solid growth, despite the challenging environment, attests to resilience in tourism demand and the attractiveness of Australia’s tourism offerings to both domestic and international travellers.

There was also progress to embed sustainable practices in the visitor economy, including the launch of a new National Sustainability Framework for the visitor economy, endorsed by all of Australia’s tourism Ministers. 

Chart 1: Domestic and international visitor spend in Australia, calendar year 2010 to 2023.

Note: Total spend captures spend in Australia by short-term visitors. The data excludes long-term international students. This means estimates will not directly align to THRIVE targets. Figures may not sum due to rounding.

Source: Tourism Research Australia

Domestic tourism demand rapidly recovered from the pandemic in 2022, before growth moderated in 2023. The moderation was largely anticipated but the impact has varied across tourism regions and sectors.

International tourism demand continued to recover from the COVID-19 downturn in 2023. TRA forecasts a full recovery of international visitor numbers in 2025.  

Chart 2: International short-term visitor arrivals, rolling annual volumes, 1986 to 2023.

Quarterly data to end of December quarter 2023. 

Source: ABS Overseas Arrivals and Departures. Historical data (prior to 2005) has been backcast from historical ABS data. 

Despite the recovery in tourism spend in 2023, some parts of the visitor economy met persistent challenges. For example, some tourism sectors or regions:

  • faced ongoing supply constraints. These included workforce and skills shortages, supply-chain disruptions, and rising cost pressures 
  • saw a decline in domestic visitor demand in 2023 from the elevated level in the previous year
  • faced a pullback in discretionary spending in 2023
  • were affected by some Australians preferencing overseas trips rather than domestic trips 
  • continued to see lower numbers of high-value international visitors compared to pre-pandemic years. 

Visitor economy outlook

The outlook for further growth is positive. Tourism spend is forecast to increase by 31% over the next 5 years, to reach 61% above its pre-pandemic level. International visitation and domestic visitor nights are expected to rise to above their pre-pandemic levels. 

The industry-led and government-enabled THRIVE 2030 Strategy supported the recovery of the visitor economy during and post-pandemic. This national long-term tourism strategy aspires to boost expenditure in the visitor economy to $230 billion by 2030.

TRA is developing the LIVE Framework (Longitudinal Indicators for the Visitor Economy) for release in 2024. It will feature indicators to measure the sustainable progress of the visitor economy across a range of economic, social and environmental indicators. 

More information

    Contact TRA

    mail   tourism.research@tra.gov.au