Australia’s tourism industry appears to be in something of a crisis. All us Aussies are jumping on planes and leaving the country in droves, although that’s nothing completely new; strong dollar or no strong dollar, we’ve always loved to travel. But no one is coming to visit us. We seemed to have lost a little of our lustre and this is a crying shame for a country as extraordinary as Australia.
The first thing most Americans or Europeans say to me, upon discovering I’m from Australia, is ‘wow … it’s so far away.’ And they usually say it with this wide-eyed look of wonderment, as if I stowed away on a cargo-ship for six months to reach Europe. Yeah, okay, twenty hours on a plane sometimes does feel like 6 months on a cargo ship, but it’s not so bad. Particularly when what is at the end is so rewarding.
We need to convince the spoilt Europeans, who are so used to two hour flights transporting them into the thick of a completely different culture that what is at the end of, yes, a rather long (and, okay, expensive) flight, is truly worth it. And we need to do it without making ourselves look like complete knobs, without perpetuating mortifying and inaccurate stereotypes and without, seemingly, using Lara Bingle.
Our issue with selling ourselves to the world seems to rest in several unfortunate facts; we don’t see ourselves the same way the rest of the world does; we are naturally bad self promoters because the temptation to pay ourselves out is always too strong; on the occasions we do take ourselves seriously, we tend to forget we can simultaneously have a sense of humour whilst doing it and thus try too hard and miss the mark; when we do attempt to promote ourselves on a large scale, we unsuccessfully buy into the inaccurate global concept of modern Australia which hasn’t refreshed itself since 1954, ignoring our own, more interesting self-perception within which could possibly lie a far more effective and enticing ideal to promote.
So, I’m interested … how would you promote Australia to the rest of the world? Suggestions involving Alf Stewart (as cool as he is) are not welcome. Similarly, suggestions involving improving our own behaviour when overseas, whilst accurate, are not what I’m looking for.