19 February 2009

Luhrmann's film fails to draw the crowds to Australia

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Tourism operators in Australia are outraged at the failed attempt of Tourism Australia to ride on the back of Baz Luhrmann's epic film Australia.

According to The Australian, Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) managing director Matt Hingerty said the tourism industry board has not done enough to protect and support industry operators during the global recession, and that they were guilty of not communicating with industry professionals.

Hingerty also said that tourism businesses were "disgruntled" about the failure of the 'promising' Australia campaign that was meant to draw travellers from all over the world.

"The industry is taking the response into their own hands," he said.

"You would have seen a lot of retailing activity - cost cutting, advertising and so forth - because the big national branding exercise being conducted by Tourism Australia is just irrelevant to them at the moment.

"They're struggling for survival."

In January, Tourism Australia's managing director Geoff Buckley reassured tourism operators in a statement that the film was a global success and reaching box office in many countries.  He also stated that reports from international media and travel companies worldwide are showing a significant interest after the release of the campaign 'Come Walkabout' and the film.

"Whilst we are realistic that the global financial crisis will result in a decline in international visitors to Australia in 2009, we believe that by keeping Australia front of mind amongst consumers we can minimise the impact of the crisis this year and lay a foundation for a return to growth in 2010," he said in a statement.

Buckley has stood by this comment, by saying that the film has exposed Australia to 580 million people worldwide. 

"Now we've also done a lot of tracking of that process and what we're getting is a lot of positive response back.

"In times like this, if you want these sorts of things to get out there and get Australia noticed and be kept in the minds of people ... we've got to get out there and make as much noise, positive noise about Australia, as possible.

Buckley is hoping the film's setting in the hot Australian outback would entice Europeans to escape what has been coined as the whitest winter on record in Europe – particularly in Spain, Sweden and Denmark where the film is still sitting at number one in the box office.

Most travellers to Australia – apart from New Zealanders - will need to apply for an Australian holiday visa to enter the country for tourism purposes.  For those from eligible countries, the ETA visa is a simple, instantaneous holiday visa that allows people to holiday in Australia for up to three months.  For all others, an Australian travel visa is necessary for a holiday in Australia, which will allow the holder to travel in Australia for up to twelve months and study for up to three of those twelve months.


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