NOTHING LIKE AUSTRALIA – is this tourism campaign a ‘dud’?

Has Tourism Australia got it all wrong again in its latest advertising campaign?

Rubbishing tourism campaigns is a national sport in Australia. I thought the ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign was rather witty, but it quickly turned into a national joke, the more so when Lara Bingle, the young lady who delivered that memorable punchline, became overexposed in all senses of the word.

Tourism promotion is not an easy thing to get right. We need to tell potential visitors what makes Australia unique, but we Aussies are offended if we’re depicted as beach bums who cuddle koalas. Where are our fine dining restaurants, our world class arts experiences and our sophisticated modern cities with their vibrant multicultural buzz?

Tourism Australia no doubt spend a lot of money finding out who we could be attracting to Australia and what we need to do to get them here. It’s not rocket science to understand that tourists go to Paris for food and art, Egypt and Turkey for ancient ruins and London and New York for theatre. They come to Australia to lie on beaches and cuddle koalas.

The latest criticism of Tourism Australia comes in an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, as the head of Malaysia’s budget airline AirAsia X, Mr Azran Osman-Rani, tells us that most Asian tourists would infer from the promotional video that travel in Australia is out of their price range.

Spectacular Australian scenery is not hard to find, and I think the music used in the promotion has hit written all over it. There’s a lovely little YouTube clip showing the music being created by Tasmanian singer/songwriter Dewayne Everettsmith and Milwaukee viola player Jasmine Beams.

But the finished video shows tourists flying over the landscape in helicopters and light planes, sailing past it on luxury yachts, and dressing in tuxedos for candlelit silver service dinner beside it.

AirAsia X caters for budget travellers, and many of their customers would assume that spectacular joy flights and private yachts would not be included in their basic airfare + hotel package. They would be right.

Two problems tourism promoters can’t do much about are Australia’s remote location and the current strength of the Aussie dollar. We can’t move Australia closer to Europe or the US, though we can remind people we’re not so very far from Beijing, Singapore or Tokyo.

Our economy has done relatively better at surviving the GFC than practically anywhere in the world, with the result that value of the little Aussie dollar has climbed dramatically against the greenback and the euro.

There’s no shortage of articles in which experts tell us we’re poor value for tourist money, and that our service varies from rude to downright racist.
Clive Dorman’s article and the comments which follow it provide a good example.

I’m pleased to report that most people I meet overseas are quick to say that they like Australians and how much they enjoyed their time in our country, despite the cost and the long haul flight.

Those who haven’t been usually tell me how much they would like to go there – if only it weren’t for the money and the 24 hours in that bloody plane!

I recognise that Tourism Australia, along with the better hotels and tour operators, may be more anxious to attract cashed-up high rollers than cheapskates like us and most of our friends. Backpackers with a Gap year and a work permit already know about Australia and will come anyway.

But when we travel to other places we’re always on the lookout for a freebee or at least a bargain. We don’t usually charter a helicopter or a luxury yacht.

So what are the affordable Australian travel experiences that we could be promoting to attract visitors? What would a promotional video of a ‘real, typical, ordinary family holiday’ in Australia include?

Here are a few things I’d put on my list:

1. A stroll around Sydney Harbour.
2. A proper cup of coffee in Carlton, Leichhardt or numerous other places.
3. A picnic in the Blue Mountains, Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens, Adelaide Hills or Kings Park in Perth.
4. Swimming with the fish at Clovelly Beach with a mask and snorkel.
5. Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney – free every November.
6. An Australian Rules football match.
7. A cheap Lebanese meal in Lakemba or a Vietnamese one in Cabramatta or Richmond.
8. Camping and walking almost anywhere in Tasmania, the Australian Alps or the Queensland hinterland.

What else should I add? Where do Australians take their overseas visitors?

What experiences have visitors enjoyed that didn’t require a private helicopter?

And if you’ve never been DownUnder, does the Tourism Australia video make you want to visit our country?


Filed under Travel-Australia

21 responses to “NOTHING LIKE AUSTRALIA – is this tourism campaign a ‘dud’?

  1. I think the ad is beautiful, and as you say, our high dollar has probably priced us out of the budget market. Perhaps we need to attract a few more tourists with money. I think your suggestions are excellent and maybe there should be an ad for cheapskates as well.
    I don’t believe service is bad in Australia. I have had crap service all over the world and find that most people working in service industries in Australia do a pretty good job and will usually do their best to help.

    • Thanks Debra. I agree that service in Australia is not too bad, particularly when we consider that tipping is not a big part of our culture.

      When someone does a good job in a hotel or restaurant it’s not because they’re sucking up hoping for an extra financial bonus.

  2. Caroline

    I love the ad, the music is really beautiful, lately I’ve been watching it on YouTube because it has really grown on me. As far as nice cheap things to do, a ferry ride to Manly is pretty cheap, with fish & chips on the beach. I found Sydney taxi drivers to be very friendly and chatty. ps another great Lebanese restaurant in Sydney is Fatima’s in Surry Hills, I think.

    But back to Melbourne, as you say our Botantic Gardens are unmissable as is catching a game of footy and the Queen Elizabeth market. However if someone only had time for one city, they’d be hard pressed to beat Sydney. It really is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Hell if I had a spare $10 mill I’d buy a harbourside flat myself. 😉

    • Nice comment, thanks, Caroline. Yes, that Sydney ferry ride to Manly or Watson’s Bay is affordable fun, and Fatima’s in Surry Hills is also a good recommendation. We know it well. And the Melbourne markets – Prahran or Queen Vic. Paddy’s Market in Sydney is a little tacky and I’m afraid it can’t claim to match the markets in Europe, but some of the smaller suburban ones are worth a Saturday morning.

  3. The ad is beautiful and yes it is aimed steadily at the big spenders, but looking at most of the places portrayed I have been there, done that on a seniors pension. The scenery and spectacular things can be seen with out spending a fortune, but you need time to do it without the help of planes, helicopter and yachts. Not having TV with us that is the first time I have seen that ad

    • I like the ad too, for the song as much as anything. Like Caroline above, I can feel it growing on me, particularly the fiddle breaks.

      The spectacular scenery is a given, and as you say, can be seen with a little time and effort – no helicopter required.

  4. PS we Aussies know this country has it all….

  5. I think you should be the new Tourism Spokesperson! This was a great post and I was a backpacker in Australia in 1997. No charter jets, but two feet and a bus ticket. Loved the line: beach bums who cuddle koalas. I don’t think nor believe that, it’s just super funny. I think Australians are wonderfully nice, generous, happy people. I had a fantastic year there.

  6. Hmm – 1997 eh? After fifteen years it may be time for Tourism Australia to rustle up a bit of your repeat business. We feel good about Canadians too, and even most Italians.

  7. I liked the ad, the scenery was beautiful and did strike a little proud cord with me. But, like you said where is the cheaper alternatives to see this lovely land of ours? I would have thought camping would be a huge draw card for many people. Footage of a family sitting outside their tent watching the sun rise, with freshly brewed mug in hand, and dolphins frolicking before them in the sea?

  8. Sounds great, chfg! Er…where do you actually go to see dolphins frolicking outside the tent? And who gets up before dawn to brew the fresh mug? 😉

    REAL Australian camping has blowflies frolicking outside the tent and a grumpy family complaining about the Nescafe, the powdered milk and the lack of battery power on the iPad2.

    Life wasn’t meant to be easy, but there’s nothing like Australia!

  9. Loved the video about the creation of the song and the song itself is just great. Unfortunately, Australia is a very pricey place to travel unless you do it the way grey nomads do, get a beat-up camper and stay in the caravan parks. Traveling this land the way North Americans are used to traveling will bankrupt you in a hurry. That said, the Kimberley is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been, and I’ll say, modestly, that I have had the good fortune to have been dragged a lot of places.

  10. I agree about the Kimberley, John, but even that is expensive to get to and travel about. I was lucky enough to have friends with a boat for riding up the Ord River.

    A mistake many visitors to Australia make is thinking they have to tick off the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kakadu National Park and Sydney Opera House, without realising how far apart these are.

    Much better and far cheaper to pick a small region of the country and spend some time there.

  11. A bushwalk in the Blue Mountains, a drive through the countryside just past the Blue Mountains to spot some roos, a wander around Sydney harbour foreshore. All cheap and capture the feel of Australia.

  12. Great article, Robert. Here’s a list of 100 free things to do in Australia, which I’ve also tweeted out via Tourism Australia’s twitter feed @TourismAus

    • Thanks for the visit and the retweet, Leo. Nice to see there’s a lot of interest in this.

      I love your list of 100 free things to do in Australia. I’m pleased to be able to say I’ve already done many of them, and will try to find a way to get to the ones I’ve missed. Worth at least another blog post!

  13. Pingback: 100 FREE THINGS TO DO IN AUSTRALIA – (my ‘done that’ count: 51) | Richard Tulloch's LIFE ON THE ROAD

  14. I’m doing a research about Australia’s tourist destinations and I can’t believe myself falling inlove with your country. By merely reading articles, watching videos and photos I know it’s possible. I love the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Blue Mountains etc. Wew! I wish I could visit Australia.

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