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Northern exposure for local tourism hot spots

THE WA Tourism Commission has signed a deal with a German television company to make a four-part documentary series featuring some of the State’s natural attractions.

The deal coincides with a steady increase in the number of tourists from Germany.

The series is being filmed between now and August next year by Vox TV Tierzeit and will be screened as 30-minute programs to a potential audience of five million people, with airtime worth $43 million.

WA Tourism Commission Inter-national Marketing general manager Rick Thomas told Business News nature-based TV shows, and Australia’s popularity as a tourist destination, were expected to provide a large boost in German visitors over the coming years.

“The feedback we’re getting from certain markets is that there is more concern about travelling to the US than there is about travelling in general, so there’s potential for attracting those visitors to Australia and, hopefully, Perth,” Mr Thomas said.

“Out of the UK, Australian inquiries and reservations are holding up, and we know that they’re holding up out of South-East Asia.

“Australia’s always had a reputation for being a very safe destination and it’s one of the prime factors as far as the decision making process is concerned, because nobody wants to go to a place where their life may be endangered.”

He said the German market had a particular interest in uniquely Australian forms of the tourism experience.

“The German market does have a particular interest in Aboriginal and nature-based tourism and being out in the open and experiencing something entirely different to what they have at home,” Mr Thomas said.

“They have a strong interest in the indigenous culture of any country they go to.”

He said the Commission was providing $20,000 in ‘logistic’ support.

“We haven’t actually paid Vox any money to come and do the filming,” Mr Thomas said.

“Our investment is in some of the ground costs to ensure that the filming takes place.

“The Gascoyne and Pilbara segments are being filmed this month, the Great Southern will be filmed either late this year or early in January, and the Kimberley section is likely to be shot in August 2002.

“The four keys topics will be Monkey Mia with the focus on the dugongs, the Burrup Peninsular and Pilbara landscapes, and the Olive Python Conservation Project.

“It’s through programs such as this and other documentaries that generate incredible exposure for Western Australia at a level you couldn’t hope to buy just doing above-the-line advertising, so this is very, very good for us.”

The Commission’s Central Europe market development manager, Dianne Below, told Business News from her office in Munich that German tourists were looking for ‘unspoiled nature’.

“Australia is a very exotic long-haul destination and it’s a dream destination for many people in Germany,” she said.

“In the long-haul market it’s something that generates about 150,000 passengers from Germany annually.

“They want to see nature and they want to experience some adventure and some unique wildlife in an individual-style holiday where they feel they’re not part of the mass tourism function.”

Ms Below said that the Commission had built in a special component to measure the response from the television programs after they went to air.

“The first program will be screened in December this year and the following two will be screened in prime time in March and April,” she said.

“Just before that there’s a big trade fair here in Berlin and we’ll be running a promotion alongside the TV program where people can win a holiday to Western Australia, and that’s being co-sponsored by Singapore Airlines.

“We’ll be able to record an exact response from that.

“Other response will be difficult to measure, although in line with current trends, we’re completely on the right track because there’s a big demand for eco tourism from this market.”

In the 12 months to June 2000, more than 29,000 Germans visited WA, a 39.2 per cent increase over the previous year.

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