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Where the bloody hell is Canberra?


Megan Doherty

Canberra has been snubbed again - this time left out of Tourism Australia’s new lavish television ad which will be seen around the world.

The national capital didn’t make the cut of the 90-second film which launched this week in Australia and China as part of Tourism Australia’s $250 million global marketing campaign, There’s nothing like Australia.

Set against a specially written soundtrack, the ad does not refer to any location by name but shows images of the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberley, the Opera House on Sydney Harbour, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef’s Lizard and Hayman islands, Freycinet National Park in Tasmania, Melbourne’s Crown Casino, the Gold Coast and South Australia’s Kangaroo Island.

It ends with the words ‘‘There’s nothing like Australia’’.

But there are none of the iconic images of Canberra such as the Australian War Memorial or Lake Burley Griffin.

The ad, also now on YouTube, will eventually run in 20 countries in 17 languages.

Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy today defended the decision not to feature any images of Canberra, saying the national capital was well-represented in other aspects of the multi-million dollar campaign including in a  new free tablet application.

Canberra is also one of only 14 places featured on the front page of Tourism Australia’s official website

‘‘Ads do a job and they build an impression for the country and not every place in Australia can feature in it, that’s not the point,’’ Mr McEvoy told The Canberra Times.

‘‘....It’s meant to create a great impression of Australia and consumers are reacting really, really well.’’

Tourism Australia in its official statements has unashamedly said it is promoting the ‘‘best attributes’’ of the nation and the ‘‘premier tourism product’’ in the ad.

Mr McEvoy repeated that today when asked if Canberra was ever in the mix for the ad.

‘‘When you make things, unashamedly, you use the best imagery you can to motivate the consumer,’’ he said.

‘‘The ultimate arbiter is the travelling public that you’re trying to convince to take an Australian holiday so we’ve made an ad that’s done that job exceptionally well. We worked with our creative guys to make sure we got a really good image of Australia and motivate people enough to take the next step which is where Canberra gets its opportunity.’’

Mr McEvoy said Tourism Australia had worked with tourism authorities in all states and territories including Australian Capital Tourism to ensure other locations were promoted to tourists through 25,000 specialist travel agents worldwide. The ad was merely the prompt.

‘‘So when people look at that ad they’re motivated to find out more about Australia,’’ he said.

The ad was launched on Monday in China, Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable overseas tourism market, but also in in Australia.

‘‘Ninety per cent of what we do is international so it’s overseas marketing but this campaign tested so well in Australia that we decided to show it in our own country as well,’’ Mr McEvoy said.

‘‘When we tested it in Australia, people said two things: 1. ‘It makes me proud to be Australian’ and 2. ‘It’s made me reconsider my country for a holiday’. In other words, it’s given people new motivation. Which is where Canberra will benefit, because when you do go online, Canberra is mentioned prominently.’’

The newly appointed director of Australian Capital Tourism, Ian Hill, said he was disappointed Canberra did not feature in the ad but understood the wider campaign that was being mounted by Tourism Australia.

‘‘I think we’d love to be in everything that Tourism Australia does,’’ Mr Hill said.

‘‘It is disappointing but at the same time [the ad is] a fairly generic piece around fairly broad tourism experiences, rather than one particular destination. It shows pictures of the outback, pictures of the beach - it could be anywhere.’’

Mr Hill was appointed to the top tourism post in the ACT only two weeks ago after working previously as the marketing manager for Australian Capital Tourism.

‘‘I’ll be keen to use my new elevated role to work closely with Andrew McEvoy to make sure we really encourage Tourism Australia to look at the nation’s capital as a place to be really proud in supporting and promoting,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s really good we’re in this program. But would we like to have a greater share of the voice of the campaign? Absolutely.’’

Tourism Australia used stock footage for some of the images in the ad and did have access to file footage of Canberra but Mr Hill said that might have to be updated.

‘‘We’ve got some good stuff but technology is moving ahead fairly quickly and that’s something we’re working on right now - to ensure we have the very best footage we have for digital execution,’’ Mr Hill said.

Tourism Australia says the development and production of the new commercial as well as print and digital advertising, online video and social media initiaives cost approximately $4 million.

Tourism Australia will spend an estimated $180 million over the next three years rolling out the evolving campaign in its key international markets and in Australia.

It expects to achieve a total investment of $250 million by securing up to $70 million in additional funding from industry partners to support joint marketing activities, aimed at promoting Australia with a ‘‘clear and consistent voice’’.

China, in particular, presented an opportunity to deliver around 900,000 annual visitors worth up to A$9 billion a year for Australia by decade’s end.


  • It does irk me that many overseas believe that Sydney is our capital city. Everyone knows about Washington DC and the White House, but few know what our Parliament looks like.

    Also Canberra is a great place for tourists, heaps to see and do and a lot of it is free.

    Date and time
    June 07, 2012, 12:10PM
    • Yeah, because people are going to travel from all around the world to see the Big flag pole

      You do know the White House is the equiv of the Lodge, not Parliament House don't you? (probably not)

      There's nobody travelling from overseas to go to Canberra alone (in much the same way nobody comes here to visit Newcastle) - you need the headline stuff that is all cliche to Australians (like the Opera House, the rock, the outback & bloody kangaroos)
      People may then visit elsewhere to see Canberra for the war memorial - unless they are from a French Village that Australians helped save during WW1, that's unlikely anyway, but any or all of the museums etc & we get the drive throughs here in Ncle that then find we have better beaches than Bondi (which I think is the only one anyone has heard of) that are much less crowded

      So, everyone just needs to get the chips off their shoulders - Overseas visitors want to see all the cliches

      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 1:21PM
    • @paully It's a pretty impressive flag pole mate :)

      Flags r cool
      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 2:32PM
    • That's not quite right Paully. The White House is a 'working' residence with the west wing being used for executive business. The Lodge is just a residence. It's a bit of dump which is in urgent need of renovation and modernising.

      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 2:39PM
    • @ Pauly - You do know know where executive power rests in the American and Australian systems don't you? (obviously not)

      I live in Canberra, love Canberra and I couldn't give two hoots if it is in some new commercial or campaign. What a non-story. Perhaps the ad should just be a satellite photo of the continent, just to make sure that we get everybody in. Look up and say 'cheese'.

      Stir the pot
      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 3:02PM
    • I am an expat Aus working and living in Thailand for over 10 years. Of course there are some Thai people who know lots about Australia due to travel or study there....but if you mention the name Australia...100% of the time you are greeted with a Thai person assuming a caricature of a kangaroo and saying 'ahhh...JING-JO...ok!'. Jingjo is, if you havnt guessed, the Thai name for Kangaroo (though I think somewhere along the line the word was mixed up with our bitey little DINGO....but who cares. In Thailand, Australia = Kangaroo (or maybe also Penfolds...that other famous aussie landmark....which also didnt get in :)). I lived, and many of may family have lived, in Canberra over the years - its truly wonderful place - lots of food and wine and restaurants and parks and great people..and even some great 'Australian only recognised buildings'. Yes its about time lots of places in Australia got a gong from Tourism Australia....but like lots of people have said...get the people there first up....and then sell them the rest of the place. Like a good book cover or wine need the people to want to come first - and then, well...anything is possible :)

      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 3:23PM
    • Yeah but not a soul is going to travel for over 10 hours to see a giant flag pole or visit the lodge

      Nobody goes to the US just to visit the Whote House either mind you (or few would)

      How many international news networks do you think feature a backdrop of the hill with the giant flag pole the once or twice a year Aus may feature on their news (it wouldn't be helpful - no body knows what our parliament looks like if they aren't from Aus) - When I was Europe based if there was news from Aus you'd have no backdrop or just the word Australia or I say the Opera House a couple of times (when that happened the people I was staying with knew it was where I was from, which confirmed that for foreigners the cliches work)

      & Re the White House Lodge West Wing - well yes, but are you going to show a picture of the PM's desk or the cabinet table to complete the likeness, at least the majority of the world's population knows what the White House looks like, same for the Congress Building in the US or the Washington Monument - Internationally, here is a list of things that people recognise as being Canberra " " - & agree with the comment most foreigners think that Sydney is the Oz capital - they might be ignorant but who cares

      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 3:46PM
    • That's it! We market it as the BIG FLAG POLE. Works for a whole bunch of country towns. Now you Uni of Canberra students. Get off your butts and steal the Dog on the Tuckerbox or an elephant from the circus again.

      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 7:59AM
    • When I used to work there everything closed at 5:00. Is it still the same? Don't think this is an option for a tourist city.

      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 11:19AM
  • The best thing they could find in Melbourne to offer was Crown Casino?

    I mean, it's known as Melboring for a reason, but they can still do better than that!

    Date and time
    June 07, 2012, 12:11PM

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