11 February 2004

Cultural tourism is a growing part of Australia's tourism industry and, compared to all visitors, cultural visitors are making a significant economic impact according to a Cultural Ministers Council report released today.

Australia is increasingly recognised as an exciting, unique, diverse, and sophisticated tourist destination with more to offer visitors beyond its world-renowned natural attractions. Australia has a wide range of cultural assets that enrich, educate and entertain visitors including museums, art galleries, historic and Indigenous sites, performing arts and live concerts.

The report, Economic Impact of Cultural Tourists in Australia, demonstrates the economic significance of cultural tourism to the Australian community and its importance as a tourism niche market.

The Cultural Ministers Council Statistical Working Group commissioned the report through the Bureau of Tourism Research. It is a valuable addition to cultural statistics and provides up-to-date information on the scope and impact of cultural tourism that is needed to gain an appreciation of cultural tourism's current position and potential.

The report examines the expenditure habits of both international and domestic cultural visitors during 1997–98 to 2000–01 and estimates the economic contribution of cultural visitors at the national level, examining their impact on employment, wages and supplements, Gross Value Added (GVA) and tourism consumption by industry.

The report found that cultural visitors spent around $18.2 billion per annum on goods and services while travelling in Australia. They also accounted for 2.1 million international visitors, 9.3 million domestic overnight trips and 10.6 million day trips annually, and contributed approximately $7 billion to Australia's GVA.

This represents 28.1 per cent of tourism's total contribution to GVA or 1.2 per cent of Australia's GVA. International cultural visitors contributed $8.7 billion to export earnings in 2000–01.

Cultural visitors also supported the employment of 146,200 Australians and contributed $4.3 billion per annum to Australia's wages over the years 1997–98 to 2000–01.

It is expected that this report will inform debate and discussion at the Australian Cultural Tourism Conference, being held on 11–13 February 2004, to coincide with the Australian Tourism Awards.

The report is available online at the Cultural Data Online website or by contacting Andrew Hunt of the SWG Secretariat on (02) 6271 1051.

11 February 2004