Foreign Affairs and Trade: Regional Australia—A Stronger Economy Delivering Stronger Regions 2018–19

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio works to advance Australia’s interests internationally. The portfolio delivers positive impacts for regional Australia by helping regional businesses identify and pursue international commercial opportunities, promoting foreign direct investment to drive regional growth, and implementing initiatives with a presence in regional areas.

Openness to trade and investment is central to Australia’s economic prosperity, including in regional Australia. The Foreign Policy White Paper, launched in November 2017, underscores the importance of international engagement. In an increasingly complex and uncertain international environment, Australia will need to work harder to sustain our influence and secure our interests. Proactive engagement, especially in the Indo-Pacific, will help to create more Australian jobs, drive regional economic growth and deliver gains for regional areas.

In line with this, the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio assists businesses in regional areas to pursue international commercial opportunities. Where there is a gap in private financial markets, the portfolio provides working capital, insurance and other financial solutions to help regional businesses take advantage of overseas export and commercial investment opportunities. Australia’s free trade agreements provide a competitive edge to our agricultural producers and complement the Australian Government’s efforts to secure and maintain access for many of our agricultural products under other countries’ technical and biosecurity regulations.

The portfolio works to drive regional growth by promoting foreign direct investment where it is in the national interest. Australia has a clear comparative advantage in agribusiness, resources and energy, all largely based in regional areas. In northern Australia, the portfolio works to attract investment through ‘gateway’ infrastructure projects to link northern Australia with the Indo-Pacific region. These projects improve the ability of regional businesses to trade and access international markets.

The portfolio also delivers programs that benefit regional areas. This includes the New Colombo Plan, which provides opportunities for students, including those from regional areas, to study in the Indo-Pacific region; and the Pacific Labour Scheme, which supports widespread efforts to help regional Australia benefit from labour mobility. The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio also works in partnership with state and territory governments, industry and commercial partners to build tourism demand, visitor numbers and spending in regional areas.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio has a significant presence across Australia, including offices in each state and territory capital city and a number of regional centres. These offices ensure the Australian Government is in touch with the needs of local communities and business, including in regional areas. In addition, over 1,600 Australia Post outlets deliver passport services to Australians across the country.

New Initiatives

2017 Foreign Policy White Paper

The Australian Government released a Foreign Policy White Paper in November 2017. Its purpose was to establish a strategic framework to guide Australia’s international engagement over the next decade.

The Foreign Policy White Paper provides a framework for our interests, values and priorities at a time of uncertainty and change. It affirms that an outward-looking Australia, fully engaged with the world, is essential to our future prosperity and security, including that of regional areas.

The Foreign Policy White Paper is based on five core pillars:

  • promoting an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region in which the rights of all states are respected
  • delivering more opportunities for our businesses globally and standing against protectionism
  • ensuring Australians remain safe, secure and free
  • promoting and protecting the international rules that support stability and prosperity and enable cooperation to tackle global challenges
  • stepping up support for a more resilient Pacific and Timor-Leste.

The White Paper includes a number of initiatives, many of which support the Government’s ‘Agenda for Opportunity’.

New Posts in the Indo-Pacific

The Australian Government has allocated $19.2 million from 2018-19 to 2021-22 to open a Consulate-General in Kolkata (India) and a High Commission in Funafuti (Tuvalu).

Subject to agreement by the Government of India, Australia’s new Consulate-General in Kolkata will boost trade and investment opportunities for regional Australia. It will provide regional Australian businesses with an important gateway into India’s expanding economy and help them unlock commercial opportunities in India’s growing mining and resources sector. The High Commission in Tuvalu will facilitate improved uptake of the Pacific Labour Scheme, which will provide regional Australian employers with access to a pool of Pacific workers in regional growth industries.

These new posts build on posts opened in 2017-18, including new embassies in Rabat (Morocco) and Bogota (Colombia), and a Consulate-General in Surabaya (eastern Indonesia).

Australia’s Participation in Expo 2020 Dubai

The Australian Government will fund Australia’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai. Australia’s participation in Expo 2020 will maximise trade and investment benefits with the UAE, our largest trade and investment partner in the Middle East and a gateway to Australian exports to the region. The Australian pavilion will promote Australia as an attractive place to visit, study, invest and do business. This will benefit regional Australian businesses, especially in the agriculture and tourism sectors, where there is potential to attract further trade and investment.

Business Engagement Activities

The Australian Government will provide $15.0 million from 2018-19 to 2021-22 to enable stronger community outreach on the benefits of trade and investment; reinforce dialogue with business on foreign policy and strategic issues; address non-tariff barriers; boost the competitiveness of Australian services exports, including for regional businesses; and enhance our economic and commercial diplomacy efforts to better support Australian business. These activities directly respond to concerns raised by Australian business, including in rural and regional areas, during the Foreign Policy White Paper consultation process.

As a result of these new initiatives, regional businesses will benefit from improved support in addressing barriers to exports.  Improved outreach in rural and regional areas will also create better connections between the Australian Government, business and regional communities.

A new nation brand

The Australian Government has committed $10.1 million over four years from 2017-18 to 2020-21 to the development of a stronger nation brand for Australia. Regional Australia will benefit from the nation brand as it will reinforce Australia’s reputation as an internationally competitive investment destination, a great place to visit, a quality provider of education and a trusted exporter of premium quality goods and services.

The initiative was announced in the Foreign Policy White Paper in response to numerous business and industry submissions which raised the importance of having a strong, unified nation brand for Australia.

A stronger nation brand for Australia will boost economic growth, and support the delivery of the Australian Government’s trade and investment priorities, including in regional Australia.

Promoting Australian Capability in International Markets

The Australian Government is increasing its efforts to position Australia as a global leader to an international audience of prospective buyers, partners and investors.

To unlock global opportunities, and the economic and social benefits that these opportunities bring, there is a need for stronger and coordinated promotion of Australian industry capabilities in key international markets, particularly those in high potential and growing sectors such as food and agriculture, health and bio/medtech.

Complementing the development of Australia’s new nation brand, the Australian Government will invest $0.5 million over four years to amplify Australia’s impact in international markets. A strategy and suite of shared messaging for use in overseas markets will be developed to better promote Australian solutions and suppliers to international customers and investors.

This measure will complement the Australian Government’s existing efforts and positively impact Australian businesses of all sizes in sectors of competitive advantage, including those in regional Australia which are well placed to seize global opportunities.

Pacific Labour Scheme

The Australian Government has agreed to allocate $48.6 million over four years to fund a new Pacific Labour Scheme. This Scheme will provide rural and regional Australian employers with access to a pool of Pacific workers in regional Australian growth industries such as accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, and non-seasonal agriculture, forestry and fishing. The Scheme will commence in July 2018 with an initial intake of up to 2,000 workers, building on the success of the Pacific Microstates-Northern Australia Worker Pilot Program.

The Scheme will be labour-market tested and will enable Australian employers to address labour shortages in towns and farms where there are not enough local Australian job seekers to meet demand, while providing workers with skills and savings not available in their home countries. The Scheme will also contain protections to safeguard against worker exploitation. Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu will be a priority focus for the Scheme, with access to be extended to other Pacific countries over time based on need and impact.

The Australian Government will establish a new Pacific Labour Facility in 2018 to connect Australian employers with Pacific workers and support the administration of the Pacific Labour Scheme. The Facility will increase the quality of training and supply of workers to Australia, provide pastoral care services for workers, and monitor the impact of labour mobility programs both in Australia and in Pacific economies.

The Facility will also provide targeted support to Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme, led by the Department of Jobs and Small Business. This includes a range of new measures to support participation in the Seasonal Worker Programme and to improve uptake, such as increasing Australian industry engagement, piloting additional support to reduce up-front costs for approved employers, strengthening training, improving visa arrangements, and providing additional assistance for seasonal workers to access their superannuation and pastoral care in Australia.

Defence Export Facility

The Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic) will administer a new Defence Export Facility on behalf of the Australian Government. The Defence Export Facility will have a maximum aggregate exposure of $3.8 billion over ten years. The Facility will help Australian exporters in the defence sector, including many based in regional areas, to get the finance they need to underpin the sales of their goods and services overseas. It will provide confidence to the industry to identify and pursue new export opportunities, knowing Efic’s support is available where there is a market gap for defence finance.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11)

The Australian Government signed the TPP-11 Agreement on 8 March 2018, along with other signatories Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. The TPP-11 Agreement, through its ambitious levels of trade liberalisation, shapes new and contemporary rules to underpin the process of economic integration in our region.

On entry into force, the TPP-11 Agreement will deliver immediate economic and commercial benefits to regional Australia. Australian exporters of goods and services will benefit from valuable new market access opportunities brought by the elimination of 98 per cent of tariffs in the TPP-11 area. The TPP-11 boosts existing levels of market access with Australia’s existing FTA partners, and opens up new opportunities in Canada and Mexico with which Australia does not have FTAs. For instance, for Australian farmers, the deal eliminates tariffs on more than $4.3 billion of their dutiable exports to TPP-11 countries, and secures preferential access on dutiable exports worth a further $2.1 billion.

There is also potential for the TPP-11 to bring further investment into regional Australia. The Agreement promotes growth and diversification in investment from TPP-11 countries in Australia by liberalising the Australian Government’s screening threshold for foreign investment in non-sensitive sectors from $261.0 million to $1.1 billion for all TPP-11 countries, while retaining the Australian Government’s measures to screen investment in sensitive sectors. Proposed investments by foreign governments will continue to be examined and lower screening thresholds of $15.0 million and $57.0 million will apply to investment in agricultural land and agribusiness respectively.

The Australian Government is working towards early ratification of the TPP-11, so that Australian businesses can benefit from the deal as soon as possible.

Current Initiatives

Supporting Jobs and Growth

The Australian Government is providing $16.6 million over four years from 2016-17 to 2019-2020 for several new initiatives to support jobs and growth through trade and investment, including across regional Australia. As part of these initiatives, the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio is helping connect regional Australian producers to global export markets by: working towards the establishment of a single window for international trade (supporting the Department of Home Affairs); pursuing the recognition of professional qualifications internationally; and expanding the portfolio’s outreach activities to explain free trade agreements to the community.

Helping Business Make the Most of Australia’s Free Trade Agreements

Australia’s 10 free trade agreements—including with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea—provide Australian businesses with preferential access to markets and a legally guaranteed framework for trade and investment, for the benefit of regional producers and service industries. Free trade agreements deliver benefits to a wide range of Australian exporters and investors by giving them an immediate and longer-term competitive advantage over competitors including: significant elimination and cuts to import tariffs, including for Australian beef, dairy, horticulture, wine, resources and energy, and manufacturing sectors; and enhanced services market access in priority sectors such as education, professional and telecommunications services. Regional Australia also benefits from reduced import costs for businesses and consumers.

To help regional Australian businesses connect with global markets, the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio conducts free trade agreement information seminars in rural, regional and metropolitan locations. The 100th seminar was held in the Gold Coast in April 2018. In 2018, the seminars will include information about how to take advantage of Australia’s new free trade agreements with Peru and the TPP-11, once these agreements enter into force. The seminars complement the Free Trade Agreement Training Provider Grants program, which enables organisations across Australia to provide training to small and medium enterprises on using the free trade agreements.

In addition to the free trade agreement information seminar series and grants program, the portfolio works closely with other relevant agencies, industry groups, business associations and firms to gain information on barriers to trade and investment which is factored into free trade agreement negotiating strategies, and to help promote free trade agreements to business stakeholders to encourage them to utilise the benefits of the agreements.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio has enhanced the Australian Government’s award winning online Free Trade Agreement Portal by extending it to goods commitments in all ten of Australia’s free trade agreements. The Australian Government has begun expanding the Portal to include commitments made by our free trade agreement partners on services. This process will conclude by the end of the 2017-18 financial year. Information on new free trade agreements, such as Peru, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus, and the TPP-11, will be added to the Portal upon entry into force of those agreements (expected in the 2018-19 financial year). Importantly, the Portal enables business to compare the possible benefits of overlapping free trade agreements to help them choose the free trade agreement that provides the best market access.

Efforts to promote usage of Australia’s free trade agreements are having a real impact. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade found that free trade agreement utilisation by Australian business of available preferential tariff rates under Australia’s North Asia free trade agreements was generally very strong, and has trended upwards in the period since entry into force of the agreements.

Bilateral, Regional and Plurilateral Trade Negotiations

The Australian Government is committed to further opening new markets and pursuing trade liberalisation and reforms globally. A core priority is to secure new market opportunities and greater certainty over operating conditions in sectors of particular importance to regional Australia, notably agriculture and food, resources, and services.

The Australian Government attaches a high priority to the conclusion of bilateral free trade agreement negotiations with Indonesia, along with negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (which involves the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand); Hong Kong; and the Pacific Alliance (which involves Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru).

Free trade agreement negotiations with India are also ongoing and we are seeking the resumption of negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council. Steps have been taken toward the launch of free trade agreement negotiations with the European Union, and discussions on a possible future free trade agreement are underway with the United Kingdom.

Parallel to our free trade agreement negotiations with India, we are also looking for other ways to advance trade and investment links. The India Economic Strategy, due for release mid-year, will identify practical measures to increase trade and investment with India out to 2035, looking beyond immediate market access challenges. The Strategy aims to match areas of Australian competitive advantage with India’s economic and reform priorities.

In addition, the Australian Government is pursuing built-in work programs and negotiations under existing free trade agreements. Australia and China have commenced a review of services and investment commitments in the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. A General Review of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement is already underway, with recommendations to be delivered to Ministers in the second half of 2018.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

The Australian Government continues to support the WTO multilateral trade rules system, including as the primary mechanism for resolving disputes. The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio is actively seeking to achieve outcomes that will generate benefits for economies in the Indo-Pacific, notably in the area of agriculture where Australia has led the Cairns Group coalition of countries for more than 30 years in support of agricultural trade reform. While free trade agreements open new markets, only in the WTO can disciplines be agreed to address trade-distorting measures such as subsidies.

Over the next two years, in the lead up to the next WTO ministerial meeting in December 2019, Australia will work with others, including the Cairns Group, to continue to press for further reforms in key sectors that will support open world trade and compliance with WTO rules. Despite being unable to achieve substantial progress at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017, Australia continues to highlight the unique value of globally-agreed trade rules to other WTO Members.

Australian initiatives at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference have helped set the agenda to take forward important work for Australian commercial interests and to support the multilateral trading system. One excellent example is in electronic commerce where—with the support of 69 other WTO Members—Australia launched an initiative to work towards negotiating new international rules. This group will set the groundwork for future negotiations on electronic commerce, potentially updating international trade rules to ensure they keep pace with technological change. Australian exporters, including regional start-ups, could benefit from new global rules in the area of digital trade to reduce red tape when operating in foreign markets, helping them to grow their exports.

Implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation, which came into force in 2017, will free up the movement of goods across international borders and will deliver practical benefits to regional Australian businesses who import or export, as well as to Australian consumers, through reduced costs.

The Australian Government also continues its efforts to accede to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. The Australian Government will also be ready to recommence negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement and the Trade in Services Agreement, once trading partners are ready to re-engage. The Trade in Services Agreement is a services-only negotiation covering around 70 per cent of world services trade, which will benefit regional services suppliers. Through the WTO, Australia is also continuing to press for new disciplines in the WTO on domestic regulation in services—to address behind the border barriers that are holding back our services exporters.

Advancing Economic Reforms and Regulatory Coherence Globally and Addressing Non-Tariff Barriers

The Australian Government is pursuing a more open and predictable business environment, by engaging in discussions to promote economic reforms, regulatory coherence and structural reforms in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Codex and the World Customs Organization. These organisations establish or influence standards and norms that can impact Australia’s commercial interests.

The Australian Government is active in addressing non-tariff barriers, which are a growing concern for many Australian exporters. Our free trade agreements and WTO processes provide avenues for doing this. WTO rules are designed to ensure that Members apply regulations in a manner that is not more trade restrictive than necessary to fulfil a legitimate policy objective. Australia regularly raises concerns about the WTO consistency of particular non-tariff barriers through various WTO committees. We are also negotiating enhanced cooperation mechanisms in our free trade agreements to help deal with non-tariff barriers more effectively.


TradeStart delivers Austrade’s export advisory services in partnership with local public sector, business chambers and industry groups throughout Australia. The prime objective of the TradeStart network is to assist export ready small and medium enterprises to develop international markets for their products and services.

TradeStart advisers provide practical export advice to around 1,500 export-ready companies throughout Australia each year, and work closely with the portfolio’s international network to facilitate assistance for these exporters in overseas markets.

Of the 28 TradeStart locations, 23 are in regional areas, providing greater access to export advisory services for businesses in these regions. Ongoing investments in IT platforms will allow regional businesses, through TradeStart, to digitally connect to Austrade’s global network.

Attracting Investment into Northern Australia

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio is working to attract investment into major infrastructure and other projects that open up the development of northern Australia, help link the north to the Indo-Pacific region, and improve Australia’ ability to access international markets.

The Australian Government has now hosted the Northern Australia Investment Forum twice. The first forum in Darwin in November 2015 introduced approximately 80 international companies to opportunities north of the Tropic of Capricorn, while the second, held in Cairns in November 2017, allowed approximately 100 international companies to further refine those opportunities by linking with experts in agribusiness, tourism infrastructure and resources and energy, with a focus on Indigenous engagement and research. 

The Australian Government, cooperating with the Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australian Governments, will work with these and other investors over the next two years to translate opportunities into investments. As part of this, the portfolio continues to support international investors with information about the various forms of land tenure and native title across northern Australia within the context of geospatial information that can inform investment opportunities. Austrade has also worked with Indigenous landholders to develop a set of case studies outlining successful engagements between traditional land owners and investors.

Promoting Foreign Direct Investment

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio will continue to build on its investment promotion work, which was strengthened in 2015-16 with new funding of $30.0 million over four years. To drive economic growth and employment, Austrade leads a national approach to trade and investment promotion, focusing on priority sectors of resources and energy, major infrastructure and urban development, services and technology, tourism and regional investment, agribusiness and food, advanced manufacturing and defence, international health and international education.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio will continue to promote Australia’s credentials and develop our position as a preferred investment destination. The portfolio will work to promote and facilitate greater foreign investment, including through supporting an attractive investment environment in Australia for foreign investors; international advocacy and the negotiation of investment commitments as part of our free trade agreements.

Promoting International Education

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio continues to work closely with the Department of Education and Training to promote opportunities for regional Australia under the National Strategy for International Education 2025 and Australian International Education 2025 (AIE2025), including by working with education institutions and regional providers to internationalise their business.

For example, Austrade is leading on a range of projects under the AIE2025 to better support education providers, including those in regional Australia. This includes the development of a new online tool to provide improved market opportunity insights and analysis of global trends in education; a strategic messaging framework and toolkit; a digital engagement review; and a social media campaign to promote regional Australian education destinations outside of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to international students.

The Future Unlimited education brand launched in 2011 for promoting Australian education internationally is available for use by regional providers—demonstrating the positive outcomes of an Australian education. Austrade also continues to maintain the Study in Australia website, the official Australian Government platform which provides information for existing and potential international students and showcases regional study locations in each jurisdiction.


Efic has an online platform that allows Australian small and medium enterprises to apply for export finance entirely online. This is in line with the Australian Government’s focus on making it easier for small and medium enterprises to do business. The platform—called ‘EficDirect’—has a quick, simple and efficient application process, which can be completed in as little as 30 minutes and a loan could be provided within nine business days. Online access is particularly beneficial for small and medium enterprise exporters that are based in remote areas of Australia.

Export Market Development Grants Scheme

The Export Market Development Grants scheme is an Australian Government financial assistance scheme which encourages small to medium-sized export-ready businesses to increase international marketing and promotional expenditure to achieve more sustainable export sales.

The Export Market Development Grants scheme reimburses up to 50 per cent of eligible export promotion expenses above $5,000 provided the total expenses are over $15,000. Subject to available funds, the maximum grant for eligible applicants is $150,000.

Of the 2,999 applicants that received grants in 2016-17, 16 per cent were from rural and regional Australia, providing $16.8 million in financial support to 485 businesses.

International Agricultural Research

The Australian Government is committed to improving agricultural productivity and profitability throughout the Indo-Pacific region, with significant flow-on benefits for regional Australia in areas such as biosecurity, innovation, technology, research capabilities and trade.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is Australia’s specialist international agricultural research for development agency. An independent statutory authority within the foreign affairs portfolio, ACIAR’s mission is to achieve more productive and sustainable agricultural systems for the benefit of developing countries and Australia through international agricultural research partnerships.

ACIAR is working with partner countries to identify research priorities to achieve food and nutrition security, poverty reduction and better human health in ways that also improve biosecurity, water and energy security, while reducing net greenhouse emissions and adapting to more difficult climates.

ACIAR’s research programs provide rich learning opportunities for Australian researchers at all levels, many of whom are in regional centres, and help to build and maintain agricultural, forestry and fisheries research capability in Australia.

New Colombo Plan

The Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan gives undergraduates from around Australia the opportunity to participate in study and internship programs in the Indo-Pacific region, helping build institutional and people-to-people links. Since 2014, close to 20 per cent of New Colombo Plan scholarship recipients have been from regional and remote areas. The numbers of student grants provided to regional universities under the New Colombo Plan increased by 42 per cent in 2017. The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio will continue to promote the benefits of the New Colombo Plan in deepening relationships between Australia and the region, both at the individual level and through expanding university, business, people-to-people and other links.

Australia Week Events

The Australian Government will continue to create opportunities for businesses to build and expand their business ties overseas. The Australia Week events are business-focused missions in key markets to showcase Australian capabilities and investment opportunities and promote Australia as a world-class tourism destination and education partner. They build on the success of Australia Week events in China (2014 and 2016), Indonesia (2015 and 2017), India (2015 and 2017) and the United States (2016).


Tourism remains a key contributor to many regional economies as a significant source of income. Australia’s Tourism 2020 national tourism strategy aims to achieve $140 billion in overnight visitor expenditure by the end of the decade. It includes initiatives such as Tourism Employment Plans and Major Project Facilitation. These programs will help regional communities grow jobs and diversify their economic base.

Practical initiatives, including Tourism Employment Plans, help regional businesses build a skilled tourism workforce through recruitment, retention and up‑skilling. Pilot plans have been completed in eight ‘hot spot’ regions, including Broome, Red Centre, Mornington Peninsula‑Phillip Island, Kangaroo Island, Tropical North Queensland, Canberra, Sydney, and in the North West and West coast of Tasmania.

In 2018-19 Tourism Australia’s marketing activities will entice high yield international travellers to visit Australia and disperse throughout the country. Regional Australia features prominently in Tourism Australia’s marketing activities, including in the new Dundee campaign. Tourism Australia will continue with its Aquatic and Coastal and Restaurant Australia campaigns. It will also support campaigns focused on business events, youth and working holidaymakers, and Indigenous tourism experiences, all of which resonate strongly in regional Australia.

Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Strategy

Austrade and Tourism Australia have also developed a five-year Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Strategy that will better coordinate efforts to attract foreign direct investment into regional tourism infrastructure. 

Tourism in regional Australia is on an upward trajectory with visitors increasing on average by 4.1 per cent per annum over the past five years. Abundant with natural attractions, Australia boasts a significant domestic tourism market, supported by record inbound growth. Coupled with its proximity to Asia and its thriving middle class seeking unique and authentic travel experiences, Australia is well placed to further capitalise on this opportunity.

Increased dispersal of visitors, current investor and reinvestor interest in exploring opportunities beyond Australian cities, and record visitor demand for high-end tourism products has created an opportunity to pursue coordinated investment attraction and regulatory reform.

The strategy is a coordinated investment attraction and regulatory reform approach to support facilitation of new product supply and additional experiences in regional Australia to encourage increased overnight visitation. This approach will help Australia realise the full economic and social benefits of the growing visitor economy, while contributing to the sustainable growth of Australia’s tourism industry into the future.

The strategy will initially target iconic tourism regions where the visitor economy is showing signs of growth, but has witnessed lower levels of investment. Each State and Territory government has selected a region for the strategy.

Landing Pads in Innovation Hot Spots

Australian Landing Pads provide market-ready Australian start-ups and scale-ups, including those located in regional Australia, with access to some of the world’s most renowned hubs in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Berlin and Singapore. Landing Pads participants have access to: an up-to-90 day residency in a co-working space; introductions to networks of investors, mentors and strategic partners; access to a dedicated Landing Pad Manager; and, a community that supports Australian entrepreneurs and business advice to help them grow their business.

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