Category: tourism marketing

Americans less interested in Australia as a holiday destination

Australia drops to third position among favored destinations

A few weeks ago, in Monday Morning Marketing Memo #244 on Sustaining Competitive Advantage, I wrote:

“In almost every case of industry leadership decline, the blame lays clearly at the feet of poor marketing execution and organizational cultures that are not customer centric and therefore not capable of sustaining market leadership.”

We unfortunately have another example of this, as verified by the most recent Harris Poll of American adults. Conducted in July, the survey asked “if you could spend a vacation in any country in the world outside the U.S., and not have to worry about costs, which would you chose?”

Australia, which has always been first or second choice in the eight year history of this survey, has suddenly been bounced to third position behind Italy and Great Britain. (The survey was conducted before the recent UK riots which filled news headlines around the world, but after the latest royal wedding, which may have provided some spark of renewed interest in the UK as a holiday destination.)

For the past several years, Tourism Australia and its global advertising campaigns on behalf of the country’s tourism industry have seemed to lack a coherent strategy.

First there was the dubious “Where the bloody hell are you?” advertising campaign in 2006, which generated plenty of controversial press coverage but did little for the country’s image as a preferred holiday destination. It also did not generate any major increase in visitor numbers despite its A$180 million price tag.

This was followed last year by the “There’s nothing like Australia” spot, which is basically a compilation of actors, pilots, surfers, ferry boat operators, zoo staff and other so-called “average Australians” repeatedly singing the jingle “there’s nothing like Australia.”

Quite frankly, in my opinion, this spot has more emotional appeal to Australians, encouraging greater domestic tourism, than it does for Americans or other nationalities as an enticement for overseas visitors.

No wonder that visitor arrivals in Australia from the USA in the first six months of this year have dropped 3% compared to the first half of last year. In fact, for the full year ending June 2011, visitor arrivals from the USA have dropped nearly 5% over the corresponding period.

Of course, the extraordinarily high Australian Dollar is hitting tourism in this country on two fronts — making it cheaper for Australians to holiday in places like Malaysia, Bali and Fiji, and making it much more expensive for Americans and others to visit Australia.

But remember, the Harris Poll specifically included the criteria “not have to worry about the cost,” when asking Americans to name their most preferred holiday destination. Thus, with costs and exchange rates taken out of the equation, Australia still dropped to its lowest ranking ever. Even worse, Australia is only the fourth most preferred holiday destination for the Generation X (age 34 to 46) respondents to the Harris Poll, as well as for all the female adults surveyed.

Global economic conditions and currency exchange issues aside, the recent advertising and marketing efforts by Tourism Australia and its agencies are, in this writer’s considered opinion, strategically off target and incorrectly executed. As a result, as seen in the results of the latest Harris Poll, Australia has lost its position as the most favored and preferred holiday destination among American adults.

One is tempted to ask Tourism Australia: “where the bloody hell is your strategy?”, while simultaneously pointing out that “there’s nothing like excellent marketing execution.”

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