Tourism takes aim at unused holiday leave


The prospect of being left a note on your desk telling you to go on holiday is very real as a taxpayer-funded marketing campaign begins this week encouraging people to take their 123 million days of accrued leave.

Tourism Australia is targeting “leave stockpilers” with a $1.6 million campaign, urging them to go on holiday, if not for their own health then for the economy.

The federal Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, is asking the 8.7 million Australians who from next week will be eligible for federal government bonus payments of up to $900, to go on holiday rather than to the shops.

“Rather than retail therapy, think about holiday therapy … getting some quality time with family and friends,” Mr Ferguson said at the launch yesterday of the No Leave No Life campaign. In it, employers will be given a “tool kit” of marketing material to put up in the workplace to encourage employees to take leave and help boost the economy.

The typical leave stockpiler is male, over 40 and in a managerial position with 25 days’ leave banked up. The Government estimates there is $33 billion in accumulated leave.

The campaign signals a shift by tourism officials to prop up the $65 billion domestic tourism sector as the number of overseas visitors slows. This year international visitors will fall 4.1 per cent, or about 219,000, to 5.3 million, Tourism Australia predicts.

Its managing director, Geoff Buckley, said the domestic push was not at the expense of the global campaign using the theme of the Baz Luhrmann movie Australia. “There is a shift to domestic, yes, but we are not stepping away from the international campaign,” he said.

But the industry was told that it needed to be more competitive if it was convince people to spend the bonus rather than save it and then forsake Bali for Broome.

Mr Ferguson said that retailers had done a good job of getting people out to spend in the shops, but that the tourism industry had to be “serious about competing for the disposable dollar”.

As household budgets are being squeezed, the tourism industry is seizing the opportunity to promote itself. Tourism Queensland has launched a $1.3 million “Bonus Breaks” ad campaign aimed at luring people.

Camping and caravan parks, the Greyhound bus company and three-star hotel accommodation were all “doing very well”, Mr Buckley said.

The director of the travel and leisure division at research company TNS, Carolyn Childs said there was a perception that Australia was expensive. In a recent study of 1000 Australians, more than half said only the presence of better value accommodation and cheaper flights would convince them to take a break.

Ms Childs said there were still barriers to the campaign’s message. “At the moment out of sight equals out of a job.”