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Australia forges stronger tourism ties with China

The Prime Minister announced that Australia and China had agreed to designate 2017 as the Australia-China Year of Tourism. China is Australia’s most valuable tourism market, expected to be worth more than $13 billion by 2020, and the Australia-China Year of Tourism will be a significant boost for our promotion of Australia as a highly attractive holiday destination. Tourism is one of Australia’s top two services export earners and one of five key super-growth sectors that will drive economic growth into the next decade – agreements such as this MOU with China are important measures to support this growth. In 2015, Chinese visitor spend in Australia reached a record $8.3 billion, a significant 45 per cent growth on the previous year, making it our fastest growing market. For almost two decades, Australia and China have enjoyed a strong partnership on tourism. This updated agreement will streamline visa processing and encourage more independent visitors to travel between the two countries. The MOU builds on the successful partnership established by the 2011 MOU on tourism cooperation, which covered areas such as industry cooperation, labour and skills development, investment, research and infrastructure. It also continues the Approved Destination Status scheme, which allows Chinese tourists to travel to Australia in guided groups, as well as the annual Australia–China Tourism Dialogue. For the 12 months ending February 2016, Australia welcomed 1,073,800 Chinese visitors, up a huge 22.4 per cent on the previous period. Tourism Research Australia estimates China is poised to overtake New Zealand as Australia’s largest tourism market. The Government’s pro-growth policies, such as streamlining visa applications, increasing aviation capacity and making tourism infrastructure a National Investment Priority are helping support the growth of the industry which supports around one million jobs in Australia. Examples include the new Australian Visa Application Centre in Chengdu, which is making it easier for people in China to obtain visas, and the investment by Dalian Wanda in the ‘Jewel’ tourism project on the Gold Coast which is estimated to create over 2500 jobs in Australia.