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Tourism strategy promises export gains.

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Media Release

Thursday, 20 November 2003 - AO47/2003

Tourism Strategy Promises Export Gains

The Tourism White Paper, released today by the Prime Minister and Tourism Minister Joe Hockey, will help boost Australia's services exports, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said.

"Tourism is Australia's largest export valued at $15.9 billion in 2002-03. It is a prime contributor to our services export market, which now makes up more than 20 per cent of Australia's export earnings, and a significant source of jobs in regional areas," Mr Vaile said.

"The substantial funding package, proposed structural reforms and wide-ranging measures introduced in the Tourism White Paper will strengthen Australia's position at the forefront of world tourism and help to reinvigorate the industry following the major shocks of recent years.

"The strategy provides a particular boost to rural and regional Australia. It will deliver a range of measures to strengthen international promotion and a package of initiatives for the development of tourism in regional areas."

The tourism sector consists of more than 350,000 enterprises with more than 90 per cent of them employing fewer than 20 staff. Austrade has a range of services tailored to help small businesses, including the New Exporter Development Program and the Export Market Development Grants Scheme (EMDG).

Austrade has 108 offices in 58 countries around the world and works closely with the Australian Tourist Commission to

strengthen Australia's profile and to support small to medium-sized tourism operators to enter international markets.

"EMDG can offer financial assistance to direct providers of tourism services, in areas such as transport, accommodation and tour operators and inbound tourism, by reimbursing up to 50 per cent of their export promotion expenditure," Mr Vaile said.

Mr Vaile said the White Paper also included measures to increase Australia's share of the growing global events tourism market.

"The Rugby Business Club Australia initiative, which was developed to facilitate trade and investment around Rugby World Cup 2003, is a prime example of a whole-of-government effort to maximise the flow-on business benefits of major events held in Australia," he said.

"The White Paper will provide a further boost to Australia's already strong tourism industry, particularly in regional Australia. Local job prospects and tourism operators looking to enter the international market are all set to benefit," Mr Vaile said.

Contact: Matthew Doman 02 6277 7420, Jemima Lohse (Austrade) 02 9390 2703