The Australian government’s tourism department is attempting to lure visitors back for a longer stay in the country with a new ad campaign as the nation prepares to open its borders to vaccinated travelers on Feb. 21.
The campaign, which bears the tagline “Don’t Go Small. Go Australia,” focuses on destinations found throughout the country, from the Avoca Caves in New South Wales to the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.
The strategy is to get travelers thinking beyond the weekend trips and weeklong stays that became common during the Covid-19 pandemic, said Susan Coghill, chief marketing officer of Tourism Australia.
“We really want to showcase the epic side of Australia and encourage people to come down and experience it themselves,” Ms. Coghill said.
Travel and tourism marketers have grappled with the pandemic through its several different phases. Early in the pandemic, for example, U.S. states such as West Virginia and Wyoming pitched their wide-open destinations to domestic travelers.
Even with the widespread availability of vaccines against Covid-19, the sector continued to face challenges, including uncertainty over the prospect of new future variants. Countries quickly imposed new travel restrictions following the emergence of the Omicron variant late last year.
But as Omicron recedes in many places, companies and tourism authorities are trying to tap into the pent-up demand from people who are willing to travel despite the risks.
Expedia Group Inc. ran a commercial during the Super Bowl on Sunday that featured actor Ewan McGregor telling people to travel instead of buying more products. A Super Bowl ad from competitor Booking Holdings Inc. promoted travel with the help of actor Idris Elba as well as a vacation giveaway.
“This is a time to emphasize the idea of an adventure—a trip of a lifetime—that you can do in a moment,” said Lars Perner, assistant professor of clinical marketing at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.
Tourism Australia ran a commercial from its new campaign in the Los Angeles area on NBC as the network transitioned from its coverage of the Super Bowl to the Winter Olympics.
The high-profile nature of the Super Bowl and the geographic proximity of Los Angeles to Australia made the telecast a logical venue for a statement that the country is open, Tourism Australia said.
Tourism Australia plans to roll the campaign out more widely in some markets such as France and the U.K. beginning Feb. 14, with a bigger rollout in the U.S. in March, executives said.
Australia had largely closed its border to tourists for much of the pandemic and imposed restrictions on citizens and others as well. Vaccinated citizens and permanent residents were allowed to travel freely starting in November, and vaccinated international students, skilled migrants and people who hold working-holiday visas were given the same ability in December.
Starting Feb. 21, double-vaccinated overseas tourists will be allowed into most of the country without the need to quarantine. In addition to vaccination status, foreign visitors with a valid visa must have a negative predeparture Covid test as well as a completed Australia travel declaration 72 hours before arriving in the country.
But tourists who see the new campaign may not know what they need to do to travel to the country or elsewhere, said Priya Raghubir, professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Australia should first provide clarity on what’s needed to enter the country and only then move to a campaign around incentivizing a longer stay, she said.
“Just a simple promotion of we’re open is only going to do so much,” said Prof. Raghubir.
Tourism Australia’s campaign has attempted to focus on what’s most appealing to travelers, Ms. Coghill said.
“Even though we’ve been closed for a couple of years, we are still this absolute wonderful destination down here that’s just been waiting to welcome you back,” she said.
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