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Tourism industry relies on film for resurrect -

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Tourism industry relies on film for resurrection

The World Today - Thursday, 11 September , 2008 12:52:47

Reporter: Karen Barlow

ELEANOR HALL: One of the great Australian growth industry of the 1980s and 90s, tourism, has
flat-lined.

Quarterly tourism figures point to a steady drop in visitor numbers and tourist operators say the
industry needs urgent resuscitation.

As Karen Barlow reports, Tourism Australia is now pinning its hopes on a soon to be released
Australian film.

(Excerpt from movie)

(Music)

FEMALE: The story takes place in a faraway land called Oz.

(End of excerpt)

KAREN BARLOW: There is a lot riding on the soon to be released Baz Luhrmann epic "Australia" - and
not just the local film industry. The World War II love story with Luhrmann's trademark emphasis on
excellent cinematography has tourism figures rubbing their hands in expectation.

Olivia Wirth from the Tourism and Transport Taskforce says next month's marketing tie-in with the
film is a great opportunity.

OLIVIA WIRTH: The "Australia" movie is a fantastic opportunity for Australian tourism. There is no
doubt about that. And Tourism Australia are investing a lot of funding and creative thought into
making this work for Australia as a tourism destination.

KAREN BARLOW: Australia's tourism industry needs all the help it can get. Figures from Tourism
Research Australia shows the numbers of overseas visitors has flat-lined since the Sydney 2000
Olympics, although the figures do reveal international tourists are on average spending more time
and money in Australia.

The Tourism and Transport Taskforce represents 200 of Australia's most prestigious tourism and
aviation operators and executive director Olivia Wirth says the situation is dire.

OLIVIA WIRTH: This is an ongoing trend. This is not a blip. This is a great concern to the
industry.

We're seeing the same number of holiday visitors that we did in 2000. That means we've got eight or
nine years of flat-lining growth of holiday visitors. That's those travellers that are coming from
overseas for leisure travel within Australia.

So business travel is doing well, business events is doing well, education travel is performing
well, but holiday and leisure travel is not performing so well.

KAREN BARLOW: Conditions have tough for tourism this year with rising fuel costs and a relatively
strong Australian dollar.

Daniel Gschwind from the Queensland Tourism Industry Council is particularly concerned about the
drop in Japanese tourists.

DANIEL GSCHWIND: Well the Japanese market which is and always has been very important to Australia
and to Queensland has continued to decline. It certainly hasn't been the workhorse that it has been
in the past.

KAREN BARLOW: Australia appears to have lost its flavour with the UK as well as Japan. The tie-in
tourism ads with the Baz Luhrmann film will cost $50-million and are due to air next month in
Europe, North America and Asia.

However Olivia Wirth warns that like the unsuccessful "Where the bloody hell are you?" ads of two
years ago, marketing is not the only answer.

OLIVIA WIRTH: It doesn't matter if you have a fantastic marketing campaign. If you don't have the
right product at home you're simply not going to be able to attract and sustain tourists to
Australia.

So we absolutely support the "Australia" movie. It is a fantastic opportunity. If you have a look
at what New Zealand did with "Lord of the Rings", they made that work for the tourism industry. But
you do need to have the right products at home, otherwise you simply can't be, you know, selling
hot air.

KAREN BARLOW: Can you imagine it would work with Japanese tourists?

OLIVIA WIRTH: All indications show that this movie is going to be a huge success, including in
Japan.

KAREN BARLOW: Even though the Japanese are the antagonists in the film?

OLIVIA WIRTH: It's an interesting point Karen, and look I'm not a specialist on this movie but what
I do understand is that that's only an underlying, background, but the overlying theme in the movie
is all about romance and about the experience that Australia, and that Australia changes you.

So obviously that works for us as a tourism destination, that when you come here you have
experiences that change you. So we're hoping that it's going to work for all markets including
Japan.

KAREN BARLOW: With the Australian dollar falling below the 80 US cent mark today things may be
looking up for the call to Australia.

(Excerpt from movie):

(Music)

FEMALE VOICE: We can't let them win.

MALE VOICE: We won't.

(End of excerpt)

ELEANOR HALL: Karen Barlow reporting.