Australia’s largest tourism event kicks off in far north Queensland on Monday when 1800 local and international operators and buyers converge on Cairns.

What organisers are billing as the Southern Hemisphere’s largest tourism expo kicks off in tropical north Queensland on Monday.

About 1800 delegates will attend the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE), a forum for Australian tourism operators to showcase their products, meet overseas contacts and negotiate business deals in a bid to boost the country’s tourism market.

“ATE is the largest trade show of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and the premiere annual tourism event for the Australian tourism industry,” Federal Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said.

About 600 travel wholesalers from 40 countries together with 1200 sellers from over 500 Australian firms will converge on Cairns for the four-day trade show.

Queensland’s Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey said the annual event, which has been running for 35 years, was a big contributor to the government’s goal of doubling overnight visitor spending to $30 billion by 2020.

It will also put Queensland on the international tourism map.

“The destinations and tourism products of Queensland will be centre stage with the strongest presence of any state at the event,” Ms Stuckey, who along with Mr Robb, will attend the event.

ATE is expected to inject about $10 million into the Cairns economy, a welcome start to the north’s tourism season.