Question: Just a little bit about what this campaign is?
Simon Birmingham: This is really a campaign to try to aim at the hearts of UK tourists, to get them to think well yes, it’s been a bit of a tough time here with Brexit debate, but you should reward yourself with an escape. You should seek to get away and that Australia is the perfect place to do that. And we’re using Australian characters like Kylie Minogue, Adam Hills to really, in a friendly, joking kind of way capture that Australian spirit and the relationship and mateship that exists between Australia and the UK.
Question: We’ve seen in the last year that tourist numbers dropped from the UK into Australia. Do you attribute that to Brexit?
Simon Birmingham: We know that uncertainty means that people hold back on spending a little bit and there’s been enormous uncertainty surrounding Brexit. So hopefully now with the UK election out of the way, certainty around Brexit, this is the perfect time to play on the last year and the woes that the Brits have seen over that time but also to get them to think about translating an interest in coming to Australia into a booking to come to Australia.
Question: And this isn’t just about getting people into Australia - it’s also getting them out into the regions as well, which obviously really need money at the moment. Do you think seeing- you know, that it’s lead stories, front-page stories over here, the bushfires, the drought, do you think that also has an impact on whether people want to head out our way?
Simon Birmingham: I think it’s important that we make sure we continue to invest in the Australian message. People will be seeing news about bushfires and it’s important that we give them the incentive to still come and support our tourism industry, our regional communities. These will be bookings that translate into visitors in six, 12, 18 months’ time when regional Australia needs to be getting back on its feet, and tourism is such a key driver of that with more than 40 cents in every dollar spent by tourists travelling around Australia being invested in regional communities.
Question: How important, in terms of all tourists coming into Australia, is the UK? Where do they rank in terms of tourists coming into Australia and the amount of money they’re spending?
Simon Birmingham: The UK’s our fourth largest tourism market. It’s 700,000 visitors who come annually to Australia. We can’t afford to turn our back on this market. In fact, we have to continue to invest in it as we’re doing with this $15 million spend to make sure we maintain those 700,000 visitors and hopefully grow them over the years to come.
Question: Does it have you worried, the fact that numbers have dropped 30,000 in the last year?
Simon Birmingham: We expect to see small variations and the fact that there’s been such uncertainty in the UK over that time, it’s of little surprise that there would be some downturn. What we want to hope to do is make sure we recover that and hopefully grow it beyond that.
Question: How hard was it to get Kylie on board?
Simon Birmingham: Kylie was very enthusiastic about being part of this campaign and we’ve got great support from her, Adam Hills, Shane Warne, Ian Thorpe, really the Australian personality coming through and that’s really part of why we think this will resonate so successfully in terms of families coming together over the Christmas period and getting such a fun-loving message from Australia.
Question: And is there- do you notice, you know, once you launch a campaign like this do you notice sort of instantly figures- you know, the number of people coming and going, like do they work, these kind of campaigns?
Simon Birmingham: We don’t see an instant rise in terms of visitors. What we hope to see instantly is a rise in terms of traffic to the Australia.com internet site and to our other booking partners and hopefully all of that leads then to bookings that will materialise in the next six months, the next 12 months, even the next 18 months to two years. So, this is about investing for the long and medium term future in our tourism industry.
Question: And what do you think is it about Australia that Poms like?
Simon Birmingham: I think the Brits just love the fact that they know with Australia they’re going to be able to enjoy the wonderful outdoors and they’re also going to find personalities that are welcoming, fun-loving and that they can just have an incredible good time while they’re there.