Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake tourism campaign: Tourism Australia launches domestic travel campaign despite border closures

Comedian Hamish Blake and his author partner Zoë Foster-Blake will urge Australians to "Holiday Here This Year" as part of a revived Tourism Australia campaign, despite travel restrictions and state border closures.  

The $7 million campaign will be familiar to many - a similar slogan was used earlier this year when Tourism Australia, the peak international tourism marketing body, was handed domestic travel promotion responsibilities by the Federal Government after the pandemic forced border closures, causing a profound impact on the travel industry.

Border closures are still in place for NSW and Victorian residents wanting to travel to Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, though South Australia and the Northern Territory are again welcoming visitors from NSW and the ACT.

Tourism Australia won't be short of funds to help persuade Australians to embrace their own country in the absence of international travel - it received almost $232 million in last week's delayed federal budget for domestic marketing and to help it attract international visitors when inbound travel is considered safe again and travel bubbles with Pacific and Asian neighbours are finally inflated.

Tourism Australia's annual budget for the financial year 2020-21 is $191.9 million. However, a spokesperson said that due to an "underspend" in 2019-20- as a result of "the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic" an additional $39.7 million in 2020-21 has been approved. It brings the total available funding to $231.6 million.

The Federal Tourism Minister, Senator Simon Birmingham, who is set to retain the portfolio when he takes on the role of finance minister later this year, said the increase in domestic campaign activity by Tourism Australia formed part of the government's tourism support and recovery plan.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"Tourism employs one in 13 Australians and is the backbone of so many businesses across Australia," he said. "But the industry has been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis."

The government need only look to China, once a lucrative source of tourists to Australia, for evidence as to how domestic travel can stimulate an economy in the absence of international tourism..

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Chinese tourists, with international travel restricted, took 637 domestic million trips in China over the recent eight-day Golden Week holiday period, generating revenue of almost $US70 billion ($97.8 billion) based on government data, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Senator Birmingham indicated at the weekend that travel to COVID-19 unsafe destinations like Europe and North America is unlikely to resume until the end of 2021, opening the way for a potential domestic travel blitz once borders reopen.

The revived "Holiday Here This Year" domestic marketing campaign is designed to galvanise support among Australians to support the many communities and operators that rely on tourism by planning and booking a domestic holiday.

Australians made about 11 million trips overseas and spent $65 billion overseas last year before the pandemic. It is hoped at least some of this holiday money will be transferred to domestic tourism to help stimulate the recession-hit national economy.

The new campaign follows an earlier "holiday dreaming" message that launched when domestic travel was even more restricted.

A key aspect of the Tourism Australia campaign is to encourage travellers to not just take a holiday but to book an "experience" as well, such as a surfing lesson or a guided walking tour in major cities as well regional areas.

"We are urging Australians to support our airlines and airports, tour operators, hire car companies and accommodation providers, while also giving people the chance to enjoy some of the incredible experiences our country has to offer," Senator Birmingham said.

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