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Australia's Tourism Chief Reaches For The Stars

Australian film stars to promote tourism in online campaign

Ben Packham  Jan 17, 2010

Australian celebrities and A-list visitors will be asked to tweet for the nation under an ambitious plan to lure more tourists Down Under.

Incoming tourism boss Andrew McEvoy said he would sell Australia's "big skies, landscapes and personality" to the world.

But he is unlikely to rely on a one-person sales pitch after the disastrous "Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" campaign, featuring bikini model Lara Bingle.

The new Tourism Australia chief will start work next week on a new $180 million advertising campaign to boost flat visitor numbers.

He said he would not rely solely on TV ads, flagging a cutting-edge media campaign run on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

"We are going to up the ante in terms of additional space, particularly in social media," he said.

"The most powerful form of media marketing has always been word of mouth and I think the digital world of social media gives you the most powerful word of mouth in existence."

Laying out his agenda in an exclusive interview with the Herald Sun, Mr McEvoy said:

Many hotels and tourist spots were badly in need of a facelift.

New Zealand and South Africa had managed to gain an advantage by developing top quality attractions.

Humor was too risky when pitching to a global audience.

The next Visit Australia campaign had to be loved here as well as abroad for it to be considered successful.

Mr McEvoy said Aussie success stories such as Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, could become online advocates.

He said high profile visitors could also play a role, citing US cycling champion Lance Armstrong who tweeted to 2.4 million followers from Adelaide last week, where he was riding in the Tour Down Under.

The former South Australian tourism boss said a campaign that relied on one personality risked falling flat without an "exceptional person" to anchor it.

Mr McEvoy said the key to selling Australia was to accentuate what made it different from the rest of the world.

"You know at the forefront for me are our big skies and our landscapes, but really importantly, our personality," he said.

"I reckon at our best we are a very free spirited and welcoming country, that perhaps there is a lack of pretence about Australians, and there is a real genuineness about it."

The Australian tourism industry is worth about $90 billion a year.

About 5.5 million overseas visitors arrived in the past year.

Australian film stars to promote tourism in online campaign
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