Tourism Satellite Accounts: quarterly tourism labour statistics, Australia, experimental estimates

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Experimental estimates of quarterly tourism employment and jobs to help explain the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism activity.

Reference period
September 2020

Key statistics

In September, there were 634,000 tourism jobs: This is

  • a 13.0% (-94,900) fall from September 2019
  • a 4.0% (24,600) increase from June 2020
  • the lowest number of tourism jobs in September since 2013
  • the first quarter where part-time jobs (318,300) exceed full-time (315,700) in the time series
Movement in tourism filled jobs by tourism industry, percentage change, original series (a)
Jun-19 to Sep-19Sep-19 to Dec-19Dec-19 to Mar-20Mar-20 to Jun-20Jun-20 to Sep-20Sep19 to Sep-20
Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services2.53.4-7.1-16.912.0-10.6
Clubs, pubs, taverns and bars-4.14.5-7.4-9.72.3-10.6
Rail transport0.0-4.34.5-4.313.68.7
Road transport and transport equipment rental4.5-4.60.3-3.41.1-6.6
Air, water and other transport7.73.9-7.1-17.6-21.3-37.3
Travel agency and information centre services-1.5-3.3-2.8-12.06.0-12.3
Cultural services3.69.5-8.7-23.311.2-14.7
Casinos and other gambling services-4.92.6-5.0-7.9-2.9-12.8
Sports and recreation services-4.33.1-17.9-25.514.1-28.1
Retail trade-2.04.5-1.6-
Education and training-0.6-0.6-2.7-12.7-1.1-16.6
All other industries0.41.20.4-4.80.8-2.5
Tourism total0.42.5-6.3-13.04.0-13.0
Whole economy total0.41.4-0.8-6.01.5-4.0

(a) Change on preceding quarter, except for the last column which shows the change between the current quarter and the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

(a) Quarterly proportion of tourism jobs in the economy compared with an average proportion of jobs in the economy over the 15 years prior to September 2020.

Key COVID-19 dates

  • January–March: Bushfires heavily impacted various regions across Australia. States of emergency were declared across New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory
  • 20 March: Australia's international borders closed to all non-citizens and non-residents
  • 21 March: Domestic travel restrictions began. Tasmania first state to require people entering to self-isolate for 14 days from arrival
  • 22 March: Prime Minister announced Stage 2 lock down changes, which were progressively implemented
  • 30 March: Prime Minister announced JobKeeper program
  • First week of May: JobKeeper payment from ATO commenced
  • Mid-May: Initial progressive easing of social distancing and trading restrictions commenced
  • July-August: Progressive stage 3 and 4 restrictions commenced for different parts of Victoria
  • July-September: State border restrictions frequently reviewed and progressively updated (tightened/relaxed)
  • 28 September: JobKeeper extension (with modified eligibility test) commences

Tourism industry

Filled jobs

All references to "jobs" are referring to "filled jobs" unless otherwise specified. For information on the various measures of jobs (filled job, Labour Account main job and Labour Account secondary job), please refer to the Glossary in Methodology.

All tourism industries were impacted when comparing the September quarters:

  • on average, jobs grew annually in all tourism industries for the 10 years prior to year 2020
  • jobs for all tourism industries fell in 2020 except for retail trade and rail transport
Change in number of jobs ('000), September quarters
10 year average (excluding 2020)2020
Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services7.1-23.9
Clubs, pubs, taverns and bars1.1-5.9
Rail transport0.00.2
Road transport and transport equipment rental0.9-2.0
Air, water and other transport0.9-15.2
Travel agency and information centre services1.1-4.9
Cultural services0.3-1.7
Casinos and other gambling services0.1-0.5
Sports and recreation services0.7-8.2
Retail trade1.01.9
Education and training2.0-10.4
Total tourism characteristic and connected industries15.6-94.3
All other industries0.4-0.6
Total tourism filled jobs16.0-94.9

From September quarter 2019 to September quarter 2020, the tourism industries with the largest changes in the number of jobs were: 

  • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services: -23,900 jobs (-10.6%)
  • Accommodation: -23,500 jobs (-26.1%) 
  • Air, water and other transport: -15,200 jobs (-37.3%)

Status in employment

From September quarter 2019 to September quarter 2020, tourism jobs changed by: 

  • -14.5% (-53,400) in full-time jobs
  • -11.5% (-41,500) in part-time jobs

Whilst tourism has a higher proportion of part-time workers than many other industries, this is the first quarter where the number of part-time jobs (318,300) have exceeded full-time jobs (315,700) in this time series. Note also, whilst full-time jobs continued to fall in the September quarter (down 18,300 jobs from June quarter 2020), part-time jobs have increased (up 42,900 jobs) from June quarter 2020.


From September quarter 2019 to September quarter 2020, tourism jobs changed by: 

  • -10.2% (-33,500) for males
  • -15.4% (-61,400) for females

Sex by status in employment

In September quarter 2020:

  • annual movement decreased for all cross-classifications with full-time female jobs showing the largest decrease of 16.4% (-32,200 jobs)
  • quarterly movement had mixed results - part-time female jobs had the largest increase of 16.7% (24,800 jobs) whilst full-time male jobs had the largest decrease of 7.4% (-12,200 jobs)
Tourism jobs by sex by status in employment - percentage change
                                Male                               Female
 Jun-20 to Sep-20Sep-19 to Sep-20Jun-20 to Sep-20Sep-19 to Sep-20


Measuring the impacts of bushfires and COVID-19 on tourism activity

The bushfires followed immediately by the COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on the Australian economy with tourism particularly affected. This section looks at how tourism has been impacted over the period by comparing estimates of tourism filled jobs at the end of December 2019 with those at the end of September 2020.

Overall impacts

  • Tourism jobs peaked at 747,100 in December 2019, fell last quarter to the lowest level (609,400) since June 2014, and increased to 634,000 in September 2020
  • More jobs were lost by females (-72,600; -17.7%) than males (-40,500; -12.0%)
  • Full-time jobs (-67,400; -17.6%) were more impacted than part-time jobs (-45,700; -12.6%)

Tourism hit disproportionately

Tourism has been more impacted by the bushfires and COVID-19 than the economy as a whole. Since December 2019:

  • Tourism jobs fell 15.1% (113,100 jobs) compared to 5.3% (771,100 jobs) in the whole economy
  • Tourism accounted for 4.6% of total jobs in September 2020, yet it accounted for 14.7% of job losses of the whole economy
  • The proportion of tourism jobs in the total economy fell to a record September low

Related release

Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account (previously used cat. no. 5249.0)

The 2019-20 issue of Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account was released on 10 December 2020. Users are reminded that the estimates in this quarterly release are based on a different data source and are not directly comparable to the estimates provided in the annual tourism satellite account publication. For more information on the strengths and differences between the two employment measures, please refer to the article published in March quarter 2020.

Please also note that tourism value added industry ratios were reviewed as part of the compilation of the 2019-20 annual estimates. These ratios are used to create the estimates in the quarterly tourism labour statistics. Where ratios have been revised, the changes have been applied to the quarterly estimates this quarter. This has led to minor revisions in the time series for some industries back to September quarter 2019. Revisions are a necessary and expected part of accounts compilation as data sources are updated and improved over time. These revisions have not changed the overall economic message/story that the quarterly tourism labour statistics show. For information on revisions, please refer to the Methodology section.


This TSA publication contains experimental estimates of quarterly tourism labour statistics. The ABS welcomes comments and suggestions from users regarding this release. If you are interested in contributing, please contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070, or email

Data downloads

Data cubes

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5249.0.55.005.

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