Tourism encompasses most short-term travel away from the normal place of work and residence.
It is defined by the World Tourism Organisation as 'the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes'.
This identifies 'tourism' as being more than just leisure travel. It also encompasses travel for business, health, education, religious and other reasons.
Tourism comprises both domestic and international travel. As it involves the consumption or purchase by tourists - or 'visitors' in the World Tourism Organisation terminology - of any good or service, its economic impact is felt across many sectors of the economy. In Australia the industries most affected by direct tourism demand are transport, accommodation, cafes, restaurants, takeaway food outlets and other retail trade. Indirectly, tourism affects a wide range of other industries. When a visitor buys a meal, for example, tourism indirectly creates demand in the food manufacturing, transportation and electricity industries in order to produce the inputs required to make the meal.
Tourism also draws on services provided by the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and local government organisations without direct charge to tourists. These include: the construction and maintenance of roads, airports, harbours, railways and national parks; tourism promotion; immigration and customs services; information services; and the provision of a large number of recreational facilities.
While tourism has long been an economic factor in Australia, in recent times it has grown to the extent that it is now recognised as a major contributor to total economic activity. In 2002-03 tourism contributed 4.2% to Australia's gross domestic product.
Australia's island status and distance from most of its international source markets mean that tourism in Australia will continue to be dominated by domestic tourism for the foreseeable future. International tourism only accounts for around a quarter of total tourism consumption.
The chapter contains an article Rugby World Cup 2003 - the short-term impact on the Australia economy.