Summary of the 2021-22 financial year

The National Tourism Satellite Account (NTSA) is an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) annual data product. The NTSA data is useful for understanding:

  • the value of goods and services consumed by visitors
  • the tourism contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), international trade and employment.

This summary of the TSA by Tourism Research Australia (TRA) looks at the 2021-22 financial year. This is in comparison to performance in earlier years.

COVID-19 impacts and beyond

COVID-19 continued to severely impact the tourism industry through the first half of 2021-22. By the start of 2022, however, recovery was underway, supported by:

  • reopening Australian borders to international visitors
  • reopening state and territory borders to interstate travel
  • lifting widespread lockdowns and travel restrictions
  • lifting patronage limits on tourism businesses and venues
  • more domestic flights and increased room availability at hotels, motels, and serviced apartments
  • increased travel confidence due to easing health and safety concerns
  • strong pent-up demand for travel.

Key results

Total tourism consumption was $96.8 billion in 2021-22. This was up 20.3% or $16.4 billion on 2020-21 but down 36.5% or $55.5 billion on 2018-19 (pre-pandemic). This resulted in:

  • a 31.3% increase in tourism GDP. This was from $27.8 billion in 2020-21 to $36.5 billion in 2021-22. However, tourism GDP remained 39.5% or $23.8 billion lower than in 2018-19.
  • tourism GDP as a share of the national economy increasing from 1.3% in 2020-21, to 1.6% in 2021-22. This compares to a 3.1% share of the national economy in 2018-19.
  • tourism filled jobs increasing by 21.5% from 412,600 in 2020-21 to 501,400 in 2021-22. This was 28.5% or 199,700 fewer jobs than in 2018-19.
  • tourism’s share of total filled jobs increasing from 2.9% in 2020-21, to 3.5% in 2021-22. In 2018-19, tourism accounted for 5.1% or one-in-twenty jobs in the Australian workforce.
  • tourism exports from international visitors spending money on Australian goods and services, rising $5.9 billion on 2020-21 to $6.7 billion. However, this remained 83.0% down on the $39.3 billion in 2018-19.
  • tourism imports from the money Australian residents spend when travelling overseas – growing $10.2 billion on 2020-21 to $11.9 billion. This compares with $58.1 billion in 2018-19.

Tourism consumption results

Tourism consumption was $96.8 billion in 2021-22. This was 20.3% (or $16.4 billion) up on the previous year. However, consumption was down 36.5% ($55.5 billion) from the pre-pandemic level in 2018-19.

These results reflect a pick-up in visitor spend from the start of 2022. TRA’s visitor surveys show total spend for 2021-22 of $97 billion increased 19.8% on 2020-21. However, it was down 26.8% on 2018-19. This comprised a:

  • $23.2 billion fall in international spend in Australia (down 75.5%)
  • $8.4 billion fall in domestic overnight spend (down 10.9%)
  • $3.9 billion fall in daytrip spend (down 15.9%).

The loss in tourism consumption since the start of the pandemic shows varying impacts on different parts of Australia’s visitor economy. Figure 1 shows that despite a turnaround in 2021-22, the most severely impacted goods and services have been:

  • education services – down 80.6% ($6.9 billion) on 2018-19
  • transport – down 46.6% ($20.9 billion) on 2018-19
  • travel agency and information centre services – down 40.3% ($3.8 billion) on 2018-19
  • food and drinks – down 27.2% ($4.6 billion) on 2018-19
  • shopping, gifts, and souvenirs – down 26.3% ($4.9 billion)
  • accommodation and food services –d own 25.6% ($10.9 billion) on 2018-19.

We compared the 2 COVID-impacted financial years of 2020-21 and 2021-22. The largest increases in tourism consumption were for:

  • education services – up 671% off an extremely low base
  • travel agency and information centre services – up 44.7%
  • recreational, cultural, and gambling services – up 36.6%
  • transport – up 30.7%.

helpHover on lines and columns to show data

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account 2021-22, December 2022

GDP from tourism

GDP from tourism was $36.5 billion in 2021–22. While an increase of 31.3% on 2020-21, GDP remained 39.5% lower than in 2018-19. Figure 2 shows that recovery in tourism GDP is underway. This follows the low point experienced in 2020-21.

Tourism’s share of all economic activity dropped from 3.1% in 2018–19 to 1.3% in 2020-21. It then increased to 1.6% in 2021-22.

helpHover on lines and columns to show data

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account 2021-22, December 2022

Tourism exports and imports

The international border closure during the first half of 2021-22 meant that tourism exports and imports were far lower than the pre-pandemic period (Figure 3). This was combined with the gradual return of visitor arrivals and resident departures in the second half of the financial year.  


Tourism’s export value comes from international visitors spending on Australian goods and services.

The value of tourism exports was $6.7 billion in 2021-22. This was up747% compared with 2020-21 (off an extremely low base). However, this was 83% lower than the $39.3 billion of exports in 2018-19.


Tourism imports are from Australian residents spending during overseas travel.

The value of tourism imports was $11.9 billion in 2021-22. This was 576% higher than the $1.8 billion of imports for 2020-21 (off an extremely low base), but 79.5% lower than the $58.1 billion of imports for 2018-19.

helpHover on lines to show data

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account 2021-22, December 2022

Tourism filled jobs

There were 501,400 filled jobs in tourism in 2021-22. This was 21.5% higher than the 412,600 in 2020-21 (Figure 4). However, still 28.5% or 199,700 fewer than in the pre-pandemic year 2018-19. There were slightly more part-time tourism jobs (256,000) than full-time tourism jobs (245,500) in 2021-22.

helpHover on lines and columns to show data

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account 2021-22, December 2022

The growth in tourism filled jobs (21.5%) was stronger than for all Australian jobs (3.4%). This was from 2020-21 to 2021-22 over the same period. As a result, tourism’s share of total filled jobs increased from 2.9% in 2020-21 to 3.5% in 2021-22. However, in 2018-19, before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism provided 701,100 jobs. This was 5.1% of total jobs in Australia.

Changes in this issue

ABS has new data to draw on this year, which assisted in measuring the impact of the pandemic on tourism. This led to significant revisions to previous estimates of tourism’s contribution to the economy for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years.

For the first time ABS used ‘tourism filled jobs’ as its standard metric for reporting employment in the National TSA. This data is sourced from the Australian Labour Account, rather than from the Labour Force Survey used in previous iterations of the TSA.

Table 1 summarises the 2019-20 and 2020-21 revisions to key metrics reported in the TSA accounts. For more information on the changes go to Changes in this issue at TSA data.   

Table 1: summary of revisions to key tourism indicators
Tourism GDP ($ billion)47.751.1-6.6%27.832.4-14.2%
Tourism filled jobs (000)603.8636.2-5.1%412.6507-18.6%
Tourism exports ($ billion)29.432.8-10.3%0.81.7-53.5%
Tourism imports ($ billion)42.740.84.6%1.81.517.7%

* New denotes to estimates in 2021-22 National Tourism Satellite Account
** Previous denotes estimates include in 2020-21 National Tourism Satellite Account

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