Australia’s struggling tourism industry may soon be on the road to revival with a helping hand from some of the world’s biggest stars.
The federal government has announced a $76million package to give the industry a much-needed boost in the wake of the ongoing bushfire crisis that has devastated Australia and sparked a significant slump in domestic and international tourists.
New figures obtained by The Sunday Telegraph show flight bookings from key markets have slumped by a third in the last week alone while visitors from Hong Kong, Germany and the UK have halved in the last five weeks.
Even popular tourist hotspots not impacted by the fires have been deserted by visitors with cancellation rates soaring as high as 60 per cent, according to Australian Tourism Industry Council figures.
Chris Hemsworth and wife Elsa Pataky may answer the call from the federal government to help spread the word Australia is open for business in the wake of the devastating bushfires
Almost $10 million will be set aside to help pay for celebrities and social media influencers to spread the word at national and international levels that Australia is open for business.
Former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland and Bollywood star Parineeti Chopra are among those who recently enjoyed trips Down Under funded by Australia’s International Media Hosting Program.
The hosting program has links with US talk show Late Night with Seth Meyers and Chinese reality show ‘We Are in Love’, which both filmed in Australia last year.
Actor Chris Hemsworth and his wife Elsa Pataky may also answer the call to help spread the word Australia is open for business.
As proud Byron Bay locals, the A-list couple often promote Australia to their millions of followers on their social media accounts.
Part of the package will be set aside to help pay for celebrities such as The Vopice Australia coach Kelly Rowland (pictured) to promote to the world that Australia is open for business
It’s estimated the NSW Blue Mountains region copped a $150 million loss in tourism last month while NSW south coast is suffering from a $200million loss since New Year Eve.
‘Australian tourism is facing its biggest challenge in living memory,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Sunday.
‘This is about getting more visitors to help keep local businesses alive and protect local jobs right across the country and especially in those areas so directly devastated such as Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills, the Blue Mountains and right along the NSW Coast and East Gippsland in Victoria.’
Federal tourism minister Simon Birningham hopes to see a return in tourist numbers as early as next week, which coincides with the Australia Day long weekend.
‘One in 13 Australian jobs rely on tourism and hospitality, and the $76 million package we are announcing today is really a job saving package for Australia,’ Mr Birningham told Channel Seven’s Sunrise on Sunday.
‘It is focused on a tourism industry and we are focused on our domestic tourism industry to make sure we get more Australians choosing to holiday in Australia and to travel throughout our country as we deal with this international downturn.’
‘Most of our country is actually untouched by bushfires despite the misleading maps that have been put out there, and of course, for the vast majority of instances, tourists can come and still have the same incredible experience that they have had in Australia.’
Tourists are urged to return to SA’s Kangaroo Island (pictured on Sunday) following recent fires
The minister issued this plea to Australians.
‘I f you are thinking about taking a long break during the year, if you are thinking about doing something the next lot of school holidays, please think about making a booking for an Australian tourism provider, because right now they really need your help,’ Mr Birningham said.
The funding boost prompted South Australian Premier Steven Marshall to launch his own social media campaign to entice visitors to his fire-ravaged state with the hashtag #bookthemout.
Tourism spending is down by over $100million since fires ravaged Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills in the last four weeks.
‘It’s the key message of a major tourism campaign we are launching to help South Australian regions affected by bushfires,’ Mr Marshall tweeted on Sunday.
‘The campaign will encourage the immediate return of visitors to Kangaroo Island and the Hills. We’re sending a clear message that SA is open for business.’
Kelly Rowland (pictured) recently enjoyed a trip Down Under funded by Australia’s International Media Hosting Program
The funding package announcement comes two days after Tourism Australia began spreading the word themselves on social media.
‘The best way to support Australia and the communities affected by bushfires is to keep visiting. We’re still open for business!’ it posted on Facebook page on Friday.
The $76million funding package also includes $20 million for a nationally coordinated domestic marketing initiative and $25 million for a global marketing campaign to drive international tourism.
A further $10 million will be provided to promote regional tourism events across bushfire-affected areas.
Through Tourism Australia, the government is providing an additional $9.5 million for its international media and travel trade hosting program, as well as $6.5 million to support tourism businesses attending at its annual trade event.
The Blue Mountains west of Sydney has also copped a tourism hit in the wake of recent fires
Australia’s diplomatic network is also receiving $5 million to promote the country being open for international education and exports as well as travel.
Tourism Australia was recently forced to pressed pause on its new $15million advertising campaign in the UK earlier this month.
The three-minute ‘Matesong’ ad starring Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue enticing Brits to head Down Under was pulled from television screens less than a fortnight after it aired for the first time on Christmas Day.
‘We will continue to review our planned activity over the coming weeks and months,’a Tourism Australia spokeswoman recently told Daily Mail Australia.
It comes after Tourism Australia pressed pause on its UK campaign starring Kylie Minogue