Tourism initiative shows there's plenty of value in just saying g'day

<em>Illustration: Rocco Fazzari</em>
Illustration: Rocco Fazzari 

FAR from cringing at the Paul Hogan "throw a shrimp on the barbie" tourism campaign of 1984, "Hoges" will be honoured as an Australian icon at the 10th anniversary G'Day USA gala for his pioneering work introducing Australia as a holiday destination for Americans.

The G'Day USA organising committee chairman, Wally Mariani, said: "As we celebrate 10 years of G'Day and look to the next 10 years, we are pleased to honour Paul Hogan with our first icon award, John Travolta will be our first goodwill ambassador award and Rose Byrne will be honoured for her remarkable career to date."

A number of past honourees are expected to attend the gala in Los Angeles, including Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts.

The gala is part of Australia Week, which curiously lasts from January 9 to January 22. In the 10 years since its inception it has grown from a handful of events in Los Angeles to more than 25 events in seven American cities with a focus on promoting Australian business.

"The founding partners of G'Day USA are extremely proud of the proven success of the program in generating business and trade opportunities and expanding political and cultural links between Australia and the United States," Mr Mariani said.

"We look forward to the next 10 years of G'Day USA programs to assist us expand this key relationship even further."

While some might question the $1 million it is believed to cost taxpayers each year, organisers justify the outlay. They say that amount represents about 10 per cent of the actual cost as the remainder is subsidised by sponsors such as Qantas, Swisse, Woolmark and National Australia Bank.

The organisers claim the value of the media coverage of the week is more than $10 million each year. "Qantas sees an average of a 30 per cent increase in tickets sales to Australia from the US each January as a direct result," G'Day USA publicist Susie Dobson said.

"Tourism Australia is building on the momentum of recent growth in US visitor numbers to Australia with G'Day USA. In 2012, Tourism Australia tracked the biggest annual increase in US visitors to Australia since the 2000 Sydney Olympics."

But a Tourism Australia spokesman, Leo Seaton, said G'Day USA was not just a tourism campaign. "It's a much broader initiative and one that goes well beyond just the tourism sector," he said. "Whilst the event has had more of a consumer focus in previous years, this year's event is much more B2B [business to business] focused, including a tourism summit and other industry meetings."

The summit will be opened by the Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, Martin Ferguson. The Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, will host an Australian lunch in New York.

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