Branding Australia: How well does Tourism Australia sell Australia?



Tourism Australia is the peak government body, whose job is to attract international visitors to Australia by promoting Australia as the best destination for leisure tourism and business events (Tourism Australia, 2016).  On Australia Day, 26th of January 2016, Tourism Australia launched a $40 million marketing campaign, one of its most comprehensive about the Australian aquatic and coastal experience (Meers, 2016).  See AdNews regarding this campaign.  There was a 3 minute film, which featured Chris Hemsworth’s voice who is the ambassador for Tourism Australia (Meers, 2016; Micallef, 2016).  The campaign also included, 360o film experiential ads, “print, digital, user-generated content and a content piece with Australian Traveller” which will be “the engine room of the campaign to drive conversion” (Micallef, 2016).

This is the 3 minute film.

And here is one of the 360o experiential video clip. (Press the arrows on the top left corner and see the clip at 360o.)

Daniel Meers (2016), reported in early February that Chris Hemsworth had given Tourism Australia a $50 million worth of global advertising value.  Tourism Australia (2014), estimated their marketing activities to have generated tourism expenditure, i.e. visitors expenditure, in the ratio of 15 to 1 and a benefit to cost ratio of 6 to 1.  They also found that half of annual visitors were repeat customers, pointing to some form of customer value/customer lifetime value measure and return on investment (ROI) measurements (Tourism Australia, 2014).

So what does Tourism Australia measure and how do they do it?

According to Tourism Australia (2014), the agency uses a range of measures to quantify, review and compare their marketing performance as well as assess emerging trends within global tourism to forecast and assist decision making. This is consistent with most business’s rationale for using evaluation metrics (Michopoulou & Buhalis, 2008). The agency’s strong culture of metric utilisation, in both marketing and financial measures (Tourism Australia, 2016) may be explained by factors such as the agency’s strategy, business orientation and the environment it operates under, which have been identified by Mintz and Currim (2013) as having strong correlation with the use of metrics.

Broadly, four empirical methods are used by Tourism Australia. They include econometric, tracking surveys, computable general equilibrium modelling and experimental studies (Tourism Australia, 2014).  The agency also keeps track of the number of visitors and their demographics such country of origin, a form of customer profile metric. The econometric looks at tourism expenditure to determine ROI while tracking surveys follow market awareness, brand perception, consumers’ preferences and intention as a result of the advertising campaign (McMillen, 2012; Tourism Australia, 2014; Faulkner, 1997).  Tracking surveys assess the immediate impact of tourism advertisement because travel decisions and plans take time to eventuate (Faulkner, 1997). However, tracking surveys and econometric do not provide causal link between the marketing campaign and visitor’s travel (Faulkner, 1997; McMillen, 2012).  As such, Tourism Australia uses multivariate analysis and experimental studies which have been identified as effective ways to measure causal effects (Faulkner, 1997). Multivariate analysis helps to identify and quantify the factors that influence the visitor’s travel decisions such as income of potential tourist, cost of travel to destination, exchange rate and price of substitute destination in comparison to the marketing campaign (Tourism Australia, 2014; Faulkner, 1997).  Quasi-experimental studies include measuring the impact of the advertising campaign in one Chinese city while having unexposed city as control group to measure significance of advertising impact (Tourism Australia, 2014). These studies help Tourism Australia assess the extent to which the market responses to their marketing campaign (Faulkner, 1997).

Tourism Australia’s multi-metrics approach is very much in line with McMillen’s (2012) assertion and Amber and Roberts’ (2008) call for a multilayered and integrated approach whereby a collection of metrics is used to evaluate marketing performance.  As Faulkner (1997) indicated, there is no single approach that can “substantiate and quantify the impact of tourism marketing” (p24).

Hang Nguyen/hngu2204/21592574


Ambler, T. & Roberts J., 2008. Assessing marketing performance: don’t settle for a silver metric. Journal of Marketing Management, 24(7-8), pp. 733-750.

Faulkner, B., 1997. A model for the evaluation of national tourism destination marketing programs. Journal of Travel Research, 35(3), pp. 23-32.

McMillen, P., 2012. 100% Pure evidence: applying mixed methods to evaluate government’s destination marketing performance. Wellington, AES Conferene.

Meers, D., 2016. Tourism Australia: Chris Hemsworth campaign brings in millions, but how much did he cost?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 16 May 2016].

Micallef, R., 2016. Tourism Australia launches immersive campaign on Australia Day. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 16 May 2016].

Michopoulou, E. & Buhalis, D., 2008. Performance measures of net-enabled hypercompetitive industries: The case of tourism. International Journal of Information Management, Volume 28, pp. 168-180.

Mintz, O. & Currim. I., 2013. What drives managerial use of marketing and financial metrics and does metric use affect performance of marketing mix activities.. Journal of Marketing, Volume 77, pp. 17-40.

Tourism Australia, 2014. Productivity Commission research paper: Australia’s international tourism industry, NSW: Australia Government.

Tourism Australia, 2016. Our Mission. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 17 May 2016].



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