The Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) examines Australia’s tourism performance through an economic lens. This summary of the TSA looks at the impacts of COVID-19 on this performance and sheds light on where these were felt most deeply.
We use TSA data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to report on:
This information helps industry and governments monitor performance and support strategies for recovery and future growth.
Australia’s tourism industry experienced sustained growth from 2009 to 2019. Previous TSAs therefore held a positive outlook. This is in stark contrast to the present situation.
The impacts of COVID-19 on the visitor economy are unprecedented. Sudden restrictions to mobility have caused immediate and severe disruptions to the tourism sector. These include:
Total tourism consumption fell by 19% or $29.5 billion in 2019–20. This resulted in:
The TSA produced by the ABS is the basis for this report.
The TSA summarises industry performance over the entire financial year, it therefore tends to smooth out fluctuations in performance. Fluctuations in performance were a significant issue for 2019–2020. For that financial year, tourism performance for the first two quarters was strong. However for the second half of 2019–20:
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Source: Tourism Research Australia, International and National Visitor Surveys, June 2020
Tourism consumption in Australia decreased 19.3% (or $29.5 billion) to $123.1 billion in 2019–20. This decline comprised:
Taking a longer-term view, international travel is unlikely to return to previous levels for several years. Domestic tourism will therefore be a more important part of Australia’s visitor economy and critical for longer-term recovery.
The fall in tourism consumption had varying impacts on spending across Australia’s visitor economy. While all products were significantly affected, the most severe impacts were for:
As most international students have stayed on in Australia during the pandemic, spend on education has seen a more modest decline – down 7.5% from $8.7 billion to $8.0 billion.
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Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account, Tourism consumption, June 2020
GDP from tourism was $50.4 billion in 2019–20. This was a decrease of 17.6% compared with 2018–19.
This fall in GDP was much worse than for the rest of the economy. In 2019–20, national GDP grew by 1.7%. As a result, tourism’s share of the national economy fell from 3.1% in 2018–19 to 2.5% in 2019–20.
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Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account, GDP, June 2020
Tourism’s export value comes from international visitors spending on Australian goods and services. Imports are counted from Australian residents’ spending during overseas travel.
The value of tourism exports was $31.2 billion in 2019–20. This is down 21% compared with 2018–19. This is consistent with the 27.9% fall in visitor numbers over the same period. Due to this fall, tourism has slipped from being Australia’s largest service export to our second largest behind international education.
Over the same period:
Tourism imports were also dramatically affected by closing the Australian border.
The number of trips taken by Australians travelling overseas in 2019–20 fell by 23.8% from 11.2 million to 8.6 million. This is reflected in a 27.8% fall in the value of tourism imports from $58.3 billion to $42.1 billion.
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Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account, Tourism exports and imports, June 2020
There were 621,000 workers employed in tourism in 2019–20. This is 6.6% less than the 664,900 working in 2018–19.
Over this same period, Australia’s workforce grew 0.1%. As a result, tourism’s share of Australian employment fell from 5.2% to 4.8%.
The fall in tourism employment had the greatest impact among part-time workers. There were 8.5% fewer part-time tourism workers in 2019–20, compared with 4.9% fewer full-time workers. The extent of job losses was also slightly higher among females. There were 7.0% fewer female workers in 2019–20 compared to 6.2% fewer males.
These employment numbers are on the full financial year and under-represent the current situation due to these factors:
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Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics Tourism Satellite Accounts: quarterly tourism labour statistics, experimental estimates, June 2020
The Australian TSA is prepared by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and funded by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade).
This 2019–20 edition of the TSA (Cat. No. 5249.0) was published on the ABS website on 10 December 2020.
Since the 2013–14 issue, the TSA also includes estimates for hours worked (as a proxy for labour productivity).
The TSA framework was jointly developed by these organisations
The framework was approved by the United Nations (UN) Statistical Commission (EUROSTAT et al. 2000). It has been revised in UNWTO (2008) and Tourism Satellite Accounts: Recommended Methodological Framework (2008).
The framework has been widely applied in Australia and internationally, so the recommended methodology for TSAs is not reproduced in this report.
The Australian TSA methodology with glossary of terms are on the ABS website.