Hamish and Zoe Foster Blake’s cheeky holiday to Great Barrier Reef and the Otways

If you’re going to see Australia, you need to see it in a big way.

That’s the message from comedian Hamish Blake and his wife Zoe Foster Blake who have teamed up again with Tourism Australia for a new campaign that urges Aussies to plan a “big” extended escape to bring some love back to the regions around Australia.

From beach-hopping to bush-bashing, Australian’s backyard really does have it all.

RELATED: Hamish and Zoe Foster Blake encourage big city escapes

RELATED: Hamish, Zoe Foster Blake spruik Aussie holidays in campaign

In their new ad, which is part of Tourism Australia’s Holiday Here This Year campaign, the couple showcases some of the “big” ticket items Australia has to offer for a domestic getaway.

While Tourism Australia has found domestic travellers have been shunning cities in favour of regional areas due to health and safety concerns, there has been a surge in shorter, more frequent, trips rather than traditional month-long getaways typically reserved for European summer holidays.

Couple visit incredible spots for ad campaign

The new $9 million ad campaign features the popular duo exploring some of Australia’s most scenic spots, including the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, the Otways in Victoria, and WA’s Purnululu National Park in the Kimberleys.

“Making this was complete stuff of dreams,” Foster Blake said on her Instagram alongside the new ad.

“My husband and I are the luckiest pigs in Australia getting to shoot (together!) at these breathtaking locations – places we’d always dreamed of visiting … but “never made the time.”

“If you’ve been thinking about – or putting off – a trip to one of Australia’s many epic spots, well, this is your year.”

Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan said the new campaign will hopefully encourage Australians to travel more “further afield”.

“Australians typically spend more overseas than foreign tourists spend in Australia, so we want Australians to treat their domestic holiday this year like an overseas trip,” Mr Tehan said.

“The net impact of Australian tourist spending in Australia was a positive benefit to the economy of around $7.5 billion in the December quarter; and in 2019, holidays of five nights or longer contributed $31.8 billion to the economy.”

Longer holidays better for health and better for businesses

A recent report released by Tourism Australia revealed that Australians need to extend their holidays to be happier, healthier and more productive at work.

Dubbed the ‘Annual (leave) report’, the study showed that while Australians took 29.4 million overnight trips in 2020 – with 82 per cent of those trips being one to four nights – just 18 per cent were five nights or more.

Of those 18 per cent who took a longer break, the respondents noticed they were happier, less irritable and three times less likely to argue with their family, friends or partners. In addition, they were more likely to stick to healthy habits such as good diets and regular exercise programs after a longer holiday.

“With a backyard as vast as ours, Australians are spoiled for choice when it comes to epic destinations and holiday experiences,” Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said.

“We have a reef so big you can see it from space, the world’s greatest rock formation, and mountain ranges that dominate over three states and more.

“To make the most of these epic holiday opportunities, we’re urging Australians to take a bigger break of five days or more and explore those parts of the country that are especially reliant on international visitors. Taking a longer break is not only good for our personal wellbeing but also for Australia and the many communities and businesses that rely on tourism.”

The Epic Holidays campaign will be rolled out across a range of channels including TV, print, online, social media, content partnerships, search, radio, cinema and outdoor advertising from today.

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Aussies called to take a city holiday

To see exactly why Australia is synonymous with an abundance of iconic beaches and natural attractions, head to your local city.

That’s the key message in Tourism Australia’s latest campaign “Holiday Here This Year – City Escapes” to encourage people to book a city break and provide much-needed support to businesses making up the nation’s $152 billion tourism industry.

“Our cities are the key international gateways to Australia and transit hubs for travellers, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been hit the hardest in terms of tourism spend, hotel occupancy and aviation capacity over the past year,” Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said.

“Whether it be long, short or a quick day trip into the city, operators have worked really hard to ensure safety — as well as the ease of flexibility — for travellers.”

Eight in ten Australians say that travel restrictions have made them appreciate better what an amazing state they live in, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by The Sunday Telegraph and Tourism Australia.

Meredith Rogers from Clovelly said few cities have as many fabulous beaches and walks as Sydney so take advantage of them.

“We have many great experiences and attractions on offer for people of all ages, so you can have a truly fantastic holiday experience whilst also helping our city to thrive,” she said.

Meanwhile 84 per cent say there are actions that tourism operators could take to give them the confidence to book with them in the next 3-6 months.

This has encouraged hotels to take every step to ensure the wellbeing of their guests, including updating cancellation policies and health and safety protocols.

“Cleanliness has always been a priority and last year we announced enhanced measures and guidelines to give guests and our colleagues even greater confidence,” IHG Hotels & Resorts’ head of operations Ruwan Peiris said.

“InterContinental Sydney Double Bay and Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach have gone completely pet-friendly as people want to travel with their four-legged friends.”

Mr Peiris said the company now offers ‘Book Now Pay Later’ rates and allows free cancellation up to 72 hours prior to arrival.

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Resort general manager Mark Winterton said the site has benefited, with strong occupancy from locals.

“This not only allows us to keep our doors open and welcome guests safely, but enables us to retain wonderful industry talent through jobs,” he said.

There’s also been a resurgence in coastal and regional holidays.

Lyndel Gray, CEO of Caravan Camping Industry Association of NSW, said caravan parks have experienced an increase in campers.

“Popularity continues to rise and many holiday parks have seen a big increase in nights stayed. RV sales are also doing well with buyer interest at greater than usual levels,” she said,

“All this showcases the popularity of caravan and camping holidays as the perfect way to get out and explore our backyard.”

Reflections Holiday Parks saw an increase in bookings for roofed accommodation across all NSW regions but especially Far North Coast and Manning Great Lakes.

Parks within an easy drive of Sydney, such as Seal Rocks, and Hawkes Nest have also had a significant resurgence in demand.

“Our inland parks have 55 per cent increase in occupancy and more than doubled their camping nights,” Reflections Holiday Parks CEO Steve Edmonds said.

“Our coastal and country parks promise fresh air and relaxation, encourage healthy outdoor activities and support regional townships which have done it tough and struggled through drought, fires and now a pandemic.”

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Hamish and Zoe Foster Blake encourage big city escapes in Tourism Australia campaign

From beach-hopping to bush-bashing, Australians have been enjoying our new-found travel freedom since border restrictions relaxed, but there’s one area we’re criminally overlooking – our big cities.

So travel-loving couple Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster Blake have teamed up again with Tourism Australia for a new campaign that urges Aussies to plan a city escape to bring some love back to the big smoke.

In their new ad campaign, which is part of Tourism Australia’s Holiday Here This Year campaign, the popular couple showcases what our cities have to offer for your next domestic getaway.

Speaking to news.com.au about the City Escapes campaign and their upcoming travel plans, the pair explained how Australia’s excellent cities leave us spoiled for choice.

“No offence to other countries, but let’s say if you go to America, you’ve got some good capital cities in America but you’ve got some duds. In Australia, we’ve got no duds. If it was up to me, the campaign would be called Australia: No Dud Cities,” Blake said.

“Every capital city is awesome in its own unique way. I do love that so much about Australia. Cities that are smaller, population-wise, are kind of even cooler because they’ve got their own art, culture, food, geography, cool hotels. The cities have boomed.”

“And also whether you’re going with children, or just your partner, or you’re going for nature, or you’re going for shopping – you’ve got all of it,” Foster Blake added. “Art galleries, museums – they’re smashing it.”

The couple said they already had a hit list of cities they planned to go to next with kids Sonny, 6, and Rudy, 3.

“We were just saying we feel embarrassed we haven’t been to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Hobart,” Foster Blake said.

“Our kids like to be a bit free-range and barefooted and feral, so we’ll definitely head to somewhere that affords that sort of environment as well. That might be Perth, or Brissie.”

Blake agreed he was “dying to get back to Perth”.

“I haven’t been for a couple of years and again, I think one of my favourite things about Perth is that it’s that perfect mix between big and small,” he said.

“It’s obviously a big city but it’s spacious, there’s lots of little great pockets and there are amazing beaches.”

Tourism Australia has found domestic travellers have been shunning cities in favour of regional areas due to health and safety concerns.

Spending on overnight trips across Australia fell by $27.1 billion, or 34 per cent, in the year ending September 2020, compared to the previous year.

It has especially been felt in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth.

Hotel occupancy has also taken a dive, with Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart the hardest hit – their occupancy rates have plunged to 33 per cent, 40 per cent and 49 per cent respectively.

Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said tourism operators in Australia’s cities were still struggling almost a year after the country’s international borders snapped shut and lockdown restrictions inhibited domestic travel.

“Our cities are the key international gateways to Australia and transit hubs for travellers, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been hit the hardest in terms of tourism spend, hotel occupancy and aviation capacity over the past year,” Ms Harrison said.

“While our international borders remain closed and travel restrictions continue to fluctuate around the country, our cities run the risk of continuing to bear the brunt of this pandemic despite offering so many incredible, safe experiences and being more affordable than ever.

“As part of this campaign we are calling on Australians to help support their fellow Australians by booking a city escape, which in turn will help to support the thousands of city-based hotels, restaurants, bars, cultural attractions and experiences that rely on tourism for their livelihoods.”

As Hamish and Zoe look forward to their next city escape, they admitted there was one thing they’d have to contend with – their very opposing approaches to packing.

“He doesn’t pack until the night before, which gives me hives the morning of,” Foster Blake told news.com.au.

“I pack a week out, constantly curating, editing … and I do the kids’ suitcases as well. That will be our point of tension the night before.”

Blake admitted his packing habits were somewhat chaotic.

“For some reason, even though I know where we’re going and I know the temperature, as soon as I open my wardrobe my brain is filled with wild, 1 per cent contingencies,” he said.

“I’m packing wet weather gear on a whim, maybe three woolly jumpers for a beach holiday.

“Then when I get to the destination … it’s like a theatre sports game where I open up a bag and have no idea what’s in there.”

“But he’ll live in the same pair of shorts for seven days,” Foster Blake laughed.

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Aussies return to local holidays as international travel shrinks

After 10 tumultuous months for Australian tourism, Tourism Australia is telling holiday-makers to get out and book an Aussie trip.

The national tourism body is launching a week-long $5 million campaign “Holiday Here This Year” to inspire people to take a domestic break and provide much-needed support to businesses and employees that make up the nation’s $152 billion tourism industry.

“Our country is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and this year is an opportunity for Australians to discover why,” Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said.

“Domestic tourism is worth $100 billion to the Australian economy and our tourism industry supports more than 621,000 local jobs.”

Tourism Australia research taken in the first week of January shows consumer confidence is at an eight-month high since last May, with more than half of all Aussies considering or planning domestic travel this year.

But converting as much of this demand as possible into actual bookings is the challenge, the national body said.

Tourism spend in Australia is expected to fall by 38 per cent this financial year — a loss of almost $55 billion.

“This campaign is all about capitalising on this pent up demand by providing those people with all the content and inspiration they need to convert this desire and yearning for a holiday into actual bookings,” Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said.

“We’re calling on people to make the most of the remaining weeks of summer and experience some of our incredible tourism offerings and in doing so, help give back to operators and communities across the country who need our support more than ever.”

The tourism industry welcomed the campaign saying there has never been a more critical time to encourage Aussies to take a break in their own back yard.

“The ongoing and tragic uncertainty around State borders means locals are reluctant to book a holiday now no matter how much they crave some time off,” said Margy Osmond, chief executive officer of the Tourism and Transport Forum.

“The prospect of having to rush home or organise refunds has meant many Australians feel it is easier to just stay at home rather than face the border closure risk. We need to work hard to encourage them to book and get out and about in this fabulous country.”

Buy your local News Corp paper every day this week for tips on saving for your next local holiday, family-oriented getaways, booking unique food and wellness experiences and travelling with pets.

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Tourism Australia’s best Instagram posts of 2020: Animals, wildlife

Following on from an incredibly challenging year there are prominent undertones of love, connection and mateship in Tourism Australia’s top Instagram posts of 2020.

An image of the Sydney Opera House sails illuminated with a moving tribute to Australian firefighters, who at the time were battling bushfires across the country, was the most popular post this year.

In a year where staying connected with loved ones was so important, the list also featured many ‘awww’ moments: a quokka mum together with her joey, little penguins standing flipper in flipper and a koala tightly hugging her baby joey. Reinforcing Australia’s animals are the stars of the show, there was also a kangaroo having a belly scratch and a whale breaching.

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“This year has been incredibly challenging for so many people and communities and with travel plans largely on hold for much of 2020, keeping travellers connected with Australia’s tourism offering through our marketing has been key,” said Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison.

“A particular focus this year has been to stay active across our social media channels to remind people of all the incredible tourism experiences across Australia that are available and ready for travellers to include in their future travel plans.

“Interestingly, over the last 12 months we’ve seen the dreaming content that we’ve been posting across our social media channels resonating strongly among our audiences, with our accounts recording a significant increase in followers and engagement, highlighting the sense of escape that people have understandably been seeking this year.”

These are the top 10 posts:

1. Thank You Firefighters – Sydney Opera House, NSW

2. Kangaroo Scratch – Coffs Coast, NSW

3. Quokka & Joey – Rottnest Island, WA

4. Hemsworth Holiday – Lord Howe Island, NSW

5. Bioluminescence – Jervis Bay, NSW

6. Penguin Hug – St Kilda, Victoria

7. Koala & Joey Cuddle – WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, NSW

8. Rockpool Chills – Macquarie Pass National Park, NSW

9. Friendly Kangaroo – North Stradbroke Island, Queensland

10. Whale Breach – Gold Coast, Queensland


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This article originally appeared on Escape and was reproduced with permission

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Australia’s COVID-19 plan to boost tourism numbers

Exclusive: Australia’s word-class handling of coronavirus will be the drawcard for a new wave of “safety sojourns” when international borders eventually reopen.

Safety and security is the most important factor when choosing a destination and as a result of COVID-19, Australia is at the top of the global bucket list for international travellers.

In an exhaustive survey across 13 countries and involving 20,000 respondents, long held barriers to visiting Australia are now its strengths – with safety, security, world-class nature and wildlife all providing Australia with a competitive advantage.

Devastating though it has been for Australian tourism, the pandemic perversely presents a “re-set” opportunity for the sector,Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison told News Corp Australia.

In particular, Ms Harrison said it was a chance to focus on sustainable tourism.

Findings from Tourism Australia’s research also found:

* Global tourism looks to recover with demand for sustainable tourism practices is also increasing;

* the United States, United Kingdom and European destinations have all decreased in their appeal;

* New Zealand and Canada round out the top three desired locations by being less populated, nature-based destinations with relatively low COVID-19 impact.

“Australia’s relative isolation from the rest of the world, coupled with our sparsely populated land have never been more precious and desirable amongst travellers,” Ms Harrison said.

“Demand for sustainable tourism practices is also increasing as more and more people acknowledge travel as a positive force for good.

“Based on COVID and what we saw following the summer bushfires, we anticipate that the wellbeing of people, and our natural environment will be key considerations for many travellers in 2021.

“It would be safe to say ‘good’ is the new ‘cool’.

“Today’s travellers are increasingly engaging with sustainability issues and seeking out brands and experiences that are not only good for them, but good for the world around them.

“We know this is still a bit of a journey for many in our industry but we’re also seeing that taking even a just few small steps can often make an impact, including on the bottom line. “Many operators are already doing great work in this space and part of this is encouraging and helping them to promote their achievements.

“Australian already has a strong record when it comes to sustainable tourism practices, and we now have an opportunity to point to this record, by raising awareness of our many and often unheralded success stories.”

Booking.com spokesman Luke Wilson said “For Australia, like many countries in the Pacific, the impact the pandemic has had on travel has been keenly felt.”

Their own research findings from 20,000 people across 28 countries found safety, in regards to COVID-19, and an eco-conscious mindset were among their top five travel predictions for the future.

And that the impact of coronavirus has inspired people to not just be committed to protecting themselves, but also the places they visit.

Their report also found that 62 per cent expect more sustainable travel options and travellers will visit alternative destinations in a bid to avoid travelling during peak season and overcrowding.

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