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© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

ImageSydney, Oct 8 (IANS) Australia is enticing international tourists to come and lose themselves in the remarkable landscape, unique culture and warmth of its people through a global tourism campaign launched Wednesday that leverages on an outback movie starring Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman.

The Australian $50 million (US$32 million) campaign, which will run in cinema, on television, print and online, across 22 countries, including India, puts the spotlight on the outback and indigenous Aboriginal culture.

"We want the growing Indian middle class to go beyond Sydney-Melbourne-Gold Coast and experience the real outback Australia and its indigenous culture," Tourism Australia managing director Geoff Buckley told IANS Wednesday.

In sharp contrast to the controversial and quirky "So Where the Bloody Hell Are you?" campaign, the new advertisements show two young couples stressed, overworked and disconnected with themselves and their partner/spouse and how they are able to reconnect with themselves and their loved ones as they enjoy the romance, adventure and the transforming nature of the Australian land.

The campaign invites potential travellers to come 'Walkabout' in Australia. "To find yourself sometimes you need to lose yourself. In Australia they call this going walkabout," the advertisements say, showing tourists diving over the Great Barrier Reef, up close on a beach with kangaroos or ballooning over the capital Canberra.

'Walkabout' is a rite of passage when Australia's indigenous Aborigines wander in the outback bush. As Tourism Australia's executive general manager (marketing) Nick Baker explained, "The term 'walkabout' is a uniquely Australian way of describing what holidays should be - a time of release, joy, discovery and reconnection with our loved ones and our real selves."

The Australian travel industry has been battling the global financial meltdown, limited capacity on international flights and people becoming more conscious of leaving their carbon footprint on the planet.

"Australia's tourism industry is currently facing a difficult period. This campaign will remind people why holidays are important; and that an Australian holiday will give them an experience that will change them and their lives," Australia's Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said in statement.

There has been a 4.7 percent decline in overseas visitors during 2007-2008 and Australia hopes to revive its A$65 billion (US$43 billion) tourism industry with this campaign.

"With traditional markets such as Japan in decline, and the UK and US economies in recession, we need to focus on markets such as China and India," Tourism and Transport Forum managing director Christopher Brown told reporters.

Asia is forecast to be the fastest growing outbound travel region in the next decade, and Australia is hoping it will help turn the tide of plummeting holidaymakers.

Indian visitors to Australia are expected to increase from 95,000 in 2007 to 440,000 in 2017, an average annual growth of 16.5 percent.

Tourism Australia is hoping that when acclaimed Australian film director, screenwriter, and producer Baz Luhrmann's much anticipated epic film "Australia" has its theatrical release in 70 countries Nov 26, it will lure more international visitors to its shore.

Will this campaign succeed in luring holidaymakers to this extraordinary continent, like the "Incredible India" and "100% Pure New Zealand" campaigns? Time will tell.

© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from any www.india-voice.com content is expressly prohibited without  the permission of the writer and the news agency through which the article is syndicated. 

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