Australia unveils new website

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Although plenty of new travel products and industry partnerships were announced at the recent Australian Tourism Exchange 2010 in Adelaide, South Australia, it was a new multimedia campaign promoting the Land Down Under that stole the show and preoccupied news media nationwide.

The new promotion, "There's Nothing Like Australia," was first announced March 31 and has been rolled out in stages. In Adelaide, Tourism Australia debuted a content-rich Web component and a splashy video advertisement.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said the $3.4 million site at NothinglikeAustralia.com was designed along parameters set by the international travel trade and the Australian public.

"Our industry partners ... told us to show the icons, show the animals and make it fun and friendly," McEvoy said.

Free, downloadable advertising tools and materials include a campaign logo and tag line; ad and newsletter templates; digital postcards and wallpapers; a content widget; artwork for posters, fliers and tour shells; a screen saver; photos; and a video.

The website is based around an interactive map of Australia that features some 30,000 clickable images and stories submitted by ordinary Australians asked to finish the sentence "There's nothing like ..." with their favorite Australian experiences.

Along with the website, Tourism Australia debuted a video advertisement featuring a "There's Nothing Like Australia" theme song by Australian musician Josh Abrahams.

While the imagery filmed seems standard Australian icon fare -- including koalas, kangaroos and Sydney Harbor Bridge, as well as Australians of all stripes and ethnicities -- and the tune is reminiscent of a cheery pub sing-along, the ad instantly became grist for the critic and commentator mill.

In one recent Sydney Morning Herald article, Tourism Australia was accused of portraying the people of Oz as "boofheads, serial barbecuers and boozers" to global audiences.

"While some said the ad had a genuine feel to it and showed Australia as the bright, fun place that it is, others described it as 'embarrassing,' 'tacky' and 'cheesy,'" wrote reporter Angela Saurine in Melbourne's Herald Sun.

For all the griping at home, McEvoy is convinced the new campaign, from website and video to slogan and theme song, has what it takes to draw in audiences abroad, particularly in the U.S.

"We have a U.S. audience that does by and large want to come to Australia, and we've now got a great way to engage with them," he said, noting that new airlift from carriers such as Delta, United, Hawaiian and Qantas is helping, as well.

It could already be working; visits by Americans are on the upswing, according to Tourism Australia. The group tracked 41,200 U.S. visitors in June, for a total of 233,600 since Jan. 1, an increase of 4% compared with the first half of 2009.

Trade partners such as agents and operators will be key to maintaining the momentum, he added. Consumers will gravitate to the new campaign, "but given the time, distance and cost involved [in a trip to Australia], they definitely need the travel agent, the wholesaler and the online seller of travel to help them."

In the third, trade-focused phase of the effort, Tourism Australia is engaging in localized campaigns in major source markets worldwide. Over three years, Tourism Australia will spend $127.5 million on the new campaign.

In other news at ATE 2010:

  • Tourism Australia and Qantas Airways announced a three-year, $37.5 million partnership to promote Australia.
  • The state of South Australia announced 23% growth in international visitor expenditures in the past year. Ian Darbyshire, CEO of the South Australia Tourism Commission, revealed a campaign to position Kangaroo Island (popular among locals and visitors for abundant wildlife) as "Australia's fourth tourism icon, alongside Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbor."
  • Fifteen independent lodges and camps across Australia banded together to form Luxury Lodges of Australia. A website, www.luxurylodgesofaustralia.com.au, provides planning tools as well as links to each property's website.

This report appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of Travel Weekly.

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