While the Australian tourist visa application process is one of the most efficient in the world, the number of visitors to the land Down Under has been slipping in recent years. Despite concerns that Australian tourism figures are flagging, a new hope comes in the form of the soon-to-be-released film 'Australia'. Helmed by Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann, it's hoped the epic will revive the fortunes of a once-proud industry. With this in mind, it seems like as good excuse as any to take a look at how Australia's been presented to the rest of the world over the years.
While the appeal of a country rich in sunshine, sandy beaches and crystal-clear ocean waters seems obvious, it seems like Tourism Australia have never shied away from putting their own spin on the country. For most of the '80s, they relied on the appeal of Paul 'Crocodile Dundee' Hogan, unofficial Australian ambassador to the world, who presented a sunny, cheerful paradise (where yes, there was always another shrimp on the barbie).
Check out some of these classic commercials below (although we take no responsibility for the semi-naked Paul Hogan that features prominently in the first two):
However, amidst concerns that Australia was being misrepresented as a country lacking in sophistication and culture, the marketing campaigns have since taken a shift in tone. Rather than focussing on the laid-back lifestyle and beach culture, they instead began to represent the country through its vibrant natural scenery. This was most evident in the following ad from 2004 (featuring the vocal talents of ex-Neighbours star, Delta Goodrem):
However, this more sedate outing for Aussie tourism wasn't to last, with the next campaign in 2007 combining the spectacular Aussie sights with a cheeky slogan, for the memorable 'where the bloody hell are you?' campaign:
Unfortunately, the slightly salty language caused controversy in the UK (one of the key sources of tourism for Australia, as one of the countries that is part of the instant ETA visa scheme), with some complaining that it was unsuitable to be shown pre-watershed. The campign has since been referred to as an "absolute rolled-gold disaster" by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and whether it did anything to help promote Australia to the rest of the world is debatable.
So, with all hopes resting on Baz Luhrmann's film, can we expect Tourism Australia to capitalise on a potential blockbuster to provide a campaign that shows Australia in all its glory, or will we all be left pining for the days of Paul Hogan?
- Tom Blackett is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau
©Visa Bureau 2003-2010