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Speech at the launch of the travel advice public information campaign, Adelaide.



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Speech

Adelaide, 7 September 2003

At the launch of the Travel Advice Public Information Campaign

Ladies and gentlemen

I am delighted to be here today to launch the Government’s travel advice public information campaign.

It's a campaign with a simple but important purpose: to increase awareness within the Australian community of the Government's travel advice service and to highlight the importance of keeping informed of developments overseas.

And it’s another example of the government determination to promote safe travel for Australians going abroad.

The Government is committing over $4.1 million dollars to the campaign this financial year, and $8.4 million over the next three years.

Why are we doing it ?

I want at the outset to dispel the myth that Government travel advisories are just warnings against travel. They are not.

We do have to face the reality that there are risks associated with travelling -this was the case even before the tragic events in Bali last October, and in September 2001 in New York.

And without a doubt, today’s traveller faces a more difficult security environment than two years ago. But this is not a reason to avoid travel. It is a reason to be better informed about travel and better prepared for it.

That’s what Government travel advisories are for. Where we have information about terrorist or other security threats, we will provide that to Australians through the travel advice.

But travel advisories are more than that -they also provide information on a range of practical issues like visa requirements, health and medical issues, cultural or religious differences.

This public awareness campaign aims to broaden public understanding of the Government’s travel advisory service, and encourage Australians to consult travel advice as a routine part of their preparations for travel.

The campaign will make the point that the Australian traveller has a better chance of avoiding trouble overseas if he or she is well informed about local conditions.

For example, it will explain that wearing T-shirts and similar clothing can cause problems for an Australian woman traveller in some countries, and it will refer the public to travel advisories for further information.

Drawn from my department’s consular experience, the examples used in this campaign highlight the various everyday issues that affect Australians overseas. Often these issues are not immediately obvious to Australians when they travel.

In short, our campaign will show how our travel advisories can help Australians avoid pitfalls and travel safely and enjoyably, and return to Australia with the confidence to travel again.

How are we doing it?

Starting tonight, for the next three years, a targeted television campaign will build and maintain awareness among the public that consulting travel advice before and during overseas travel should become a routine exercise for every Australian traveller.

A print campaign will reinforce the key messages in the TV campaign.

Of course, these days, no public information campaign is complete without the internet. Indeed, the internet is an integral part of this campaign, as it is a critical tool for disseminating travel advice to the public.

The centrepiece of the campaign is a new website - "smartraveller.gov.au”-which, as the ads say, is “a must see destination". The new website is now up-and-running, and is the gateway to high-quality travel advice on over 140 countries and other valuable consular information about overseas travel.

We are also improving our other mechanisms for providing travel advice. We have introduced a new dedicated telephone number for travel advice -1300 139 281. And our email subscription and faxback services will continue.

Working with the travel industry

You may be aware that last June I launched, with Mike Hatton from the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, the Charter for Safe Travel.

The Charter is a joint Government and travel industry initiative to improve Australians’access to travel advice, and the traveller’s awareness of safety and security issues associated with overseas travel.

It is, in effect, a commitment by industry and Government to the safety of Australians overseas.

I am very pleased that the travel industry is working with us to ensure Australians get the travel advice they need. I would particularly like to acknowledge the strong support of Mr Hatton in highlighting the government's travel advice to the Federation’s customers.

It is very important that travel agents continue to work with us to ensure Australians are

properly informed about overseas travel. AFTA’s contribution in this regard has been exemplary.

Consular kiosks

A further element of this activity is the launch today of a consular kiosk in Adelaide International Airport which will provide up-to-date travel advice from my department’s website.

The airport's travellers will now be able to keep check our advice right up to the point of stepping on the aeroplane -indeed it is never too late to update yourself on the situation in the country to which you are headed.

I particularly welcome the support of Adelaide International Airport in this venture.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen

Our message to the Australian traveller is this: prepare, be aware and return home safely.

It is an overwhelmingly positive message -a message, I am sure, that will be helped along by our new public information campaign and this kiosk here at Adelaide International Airport.

Thank you.