Where the bloody hell are travelers? On Aussie travel sites

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Agents book big piece of Australia business

Travel agents slice of sales to Australia is growing, according to Michael Londregan, vice president, the Americas, Tourism Australia.

Agents, he said, are booking 47% of U.S. travelers this year, up from 39% in 2004 and 41% in 2005. In fact, the numbers are even sweeter, because agents are getting a larger piece of a growing pie.

As part of the So Where the Bloody Hell Are You? campaign, Tourism Australia expects to add thousands of new Aussie Specialists around the world, according to Scott Morrison, managing director.

In North America, that process is already under way. There are 1,745 certified and 133 premier specialists in the U.S. and Canada; another 1,899 candidates are in training and another 2,347 have signed up.

Tourism Australia will distribute 15,000 to 20,000 leads to agents this year, Londregan projected. -- N.G.

ADELAIDE, Australia -- Since Tourism Australia launched its So Where the Bloody Hell Are You? campaign at the beginning of March, there has been a rise in visits to Tourism Australia Web sites.

Scott Morrison, managing director of Tourism Australia, reported a 30% rise in visits to Australia.com and a 71% jump in visits to Tourism Australia Web sites, including SoWhereTheBloodyHellAreYou.com.

About 700,000 people in 200 countries have downloaded and played the ad, which tourism officials estimate amounts to about 3 million online viewers, he said.

The ad, which appeared on various TV networks and in select print media, directed viewers to the Web, so these are the first indicators of results.

Morrison told delegates to the Australian Tourism Exchange that meaningful results -- international arrivals and tourism dollars spent -- wont be measurable for another 12 to 18 months.

Nevertheless, there was no hiding the satisfaction among Australian tourism officials. Fran Bailey, minister for small business and tourism, said, So far, were very delighted [with a response that is] well above expectations.

When asked if Tourism Australia hadnt been lucky that the ad was accepted around the world, she said, We researched the campaign. We spent [about U.S. $5 million], so we werent lucky. ... The government has committed [about U.S. $144 million] to this over a three-year period.

Referring to a brief U.K. ban on the ad, Bailey said, The U.K. ad council had a slight problem, but we sorted that out.

Morrison said the tag line was not meant to shock; it is meant to be part of a uniquely Australian invitation to the country delivered by everyday citizens who are not actors. We tested 26 tag lines, he said.

When the U.K. banned the ad, he said, visits to Tourism Australia sites spiked briefly. Then, when ads (always in local languages except for the tag line) broke in China and Korea in early June, Web visits jumped by 477% in China and by 1,632% in Korea, admittedly from a small base.

Australia foresees the fastest growth from China and India; the campaign is active in 21 markets, categorized into three tiers.

The campaign is moving into its next phase, with newly announced partnerships with National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. Tourism Australia is set to place ads, while the partners will prepare a package of editorial content, all to be delivered in print, on TV and via other electronic media.

Separately, a broader package of print ads is in preparation to be rolled out alongside a second and larger burst of TV advertising, slated for September in the U.S.

Yale Norris, president/CEO, Aussie Adventures, Erie, Colo., a buyer at the ATE in Adelaide, said the ads are great.

His only complaint: He wants to see more of them.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].

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