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Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Movie Drives Publicity Boom for Australia as a Travel Destination

As the international travel market contracts, Baz Luhrmann's Australia is keeping the country's profile high around the world, Tourism Australia Managing Director Geoff Buckley said today.

"Our international offices are reporting very significant interest in the country from media and travel companies as the film opens around the world and Tourism Australia's 'Come Walkabout' campaign rolls out," Mr Buckley said.

"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."

Mr Buckley said editorial coverage about the country as a travel destination generated as a result of Baz Luhrmann's movie and Tourism Australia's campaign had already reached a combined audience of more than 580 million people.

"We recognised early on that we could leverage the film for destinational coverage and that is exactly what has happened," Mr Buckley said.

"We've hosted more than 40 international media visits for publications as varied as Bild-Zeitung (Germany), Gala (France), The Sunday Times (UK), Dong A (Korea), The Star Weekender (Malaysia), OK (USA), Daily Telegraph (UK), Paris Match (France), and Men's Journal (USA).

"These media have been sent to all parts of the country for a contemporary experience of the themes of our 'Come Walkabout' campaign and the film Australia all while helping to spread the word about how an Australian holiday can transform you, and now they've gone home to write about it.

"Even film critics who have never visited Australia have provided glowing endorsements for the country with one UK critic saying that after seeing the film they were tempted to visit their travel agent," Mr Buckley said. "Robbie Collins in The News of The World told his paper's readers, 'You'll laugh, you'll cry, and when you get home you'll be straight online, looking for cheap deals to Sydney'."

Mr Buckley said the combination of the film's publicity and the 'Come Walkabout' campaign has correlated with a significant increase in visitors to, Tourism Australia's consumer website and the primary call to action for its campaign activities.

"Visitor numbers to our website from all markets where the movie and campaign were released have increased by approximately 17 per cent from the previous December, which is traditionally a very slow month for traffic," Mr Buckley said.

"The December figures are the highest numbers in twelve months, and we expect these figures to continue to rise during our traditionally busy period between January and March."

Mr Buckley said the performance of the film in key international markets has also assisted in generating positive word of mouth about the country, particularly on online blogs. Australia has ranked number 1 in each of the three weeks since opening in Spain, Sweden and Denmark and still ranks near the top of the box office in other key markets including Germany, France, UK and New Zealand. The film is yet to open in major markets like Japan, Italy and China.

"To date tens of millions of people around the world have spent their hard-earned dollars to go to a cinema to see a film that showcases the land and the people of Australia. That is a big win for the country," Mr Buckley said.

"The knock-on effects are too early to call but just one example is the sight all over Paris of the posters with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman embracing in the golden light of the outback with the word Australia emblazoned across them – it is a stark and welcome contrast to one of Europe's whitest winters on record."

Twentieth Century Fox International reports that after opening in the number one position in many key markets, the film is currently ranked number three overall at the (non-US) international box office after three weeks in release in most markets and worldwide has ticket sales of approx USD$150 million.

After seven weeks in its home territory, Australia is still ranked at number seven with over 3 million admissions to date and the movie is on track to be the second biggest cinema release in 2008.

"Whilst Tourism Australia has its own measures for the success of our campaigns, we consider every single person who buys a ticket to the movie as a bonus potential traveller to Australia. This is potential which is absolutely vital for our industry right now," Mr Buckley said.

"In just one case in the US an Aussie Specialist travel agent took a group of clients to the movie and by the end of the evening had booked a 50 thousand dollar trip to Australia.

"While it is still early days for our campaign internationally these results to date are making sure that Australia is front and centre in the minds of prospective travellers across the globe," Mr Buckley said.


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