'Nothing like Australia' aims to recapture tourist dollar

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The Independent Online

The world was charmed by "shrimp on the barbie", but less amused by "where the bloody hell are you?".

Now, Aussie officials have launched a new push for the tourist dollar, under the slogan: "There is nothing like Australia".

The promotion, aimed at recapturing flagging tourist revenues, will be rolled out in two stages with an Internet campaign followed by adverts for TV and cinemas.

"We have tried the Lara Bingle approach," said Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson, referring to the model who fronted 2006's disastrous "bloody hell" campaign.

"We have to have a strategy that survives... we actually think this has some longevity."

Australia last August announced a multi-million dollar rebranding to tempt back visitors who arrived in record numbers during the 1990s but are now distracted elsewhere or put off by the strong Australian dollar.

Tourism Australia has launched a thriving Facebook page and the public is being asked to contribute pictures and descriptions of where they live to create an interactive map of the country.

"This kind of success proves that the digital space is where we can really make our mark and the marketing of Australia is no longer about the traditional 30-second television commercial," said Tourism Australia chief Andrew McEvoy.

McEvoy will be hoping for better success than "where the bloody hell are you?" - slated as a "rolled gold disaster" by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - and director Baz Luhrmann's 2008 movie "Australia", which earned mixed reviews.

The 1980s "Come and say g'day" campaign, where Crocodile Dundee actor Paul Hogan promised to "slip an extra shrimp on the barbie", remains a high point of the Australian brand - which now needs an update, experts say.

"You think of Australia and you sort of draw a blank," Todd Sampson, head of major advertising firm Leo Burnett Australia, said in August.

"Beyond koalas, kangaroos and beaches, there's not much there and that's the challenge Australia has."

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