For a brief period after Christmas, Australian pop superstar Kyle Minogue really wanted the British to visit Australia. Minogue was at the center of a $15 million ad campaign directly targeting UK citizens to come and visit their mates down under. Tourism Australia, the government agency responsible for the advertisement, has put the ad on hold while Australia burns.
The ad, which features an upbeat Minogue singing about Australia as a place of respite where a British citizen could relax in the face of its country’s troubles, premiered just ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s annual Christmas speech. “This year’s been tough and confusing,” Kylie sang. “But all of Australia loves you and we’ll never judge you.”
“We will be connecting with industry and State Government partners more in coming weeks regarding the bushfires and the pathway forward for our sector,” Tourism Australia said in a statement, according to CMO. “Given the widespread international coverage, we are focussed on developing an approach to minimise any impact on tourism, and to protect and build Australia's reputation as an international tourism destination.”
Australia is burning. Massive and unprecedented wildfires are forcing people to flee their homes. More than half a billion animals have died and the Australian Navy is rescuing refugees stranded on beaches. It’s not the best time to visit. “Whilst bushfires continue to impact parts of Australia, many areas are unaffected and most tourism businesses are still open,” Tourism Australia said in its statement. “It is more important than ever that we rally around our communities and the tourism sector who may have been impacted.”
Twenty-three people are confirmed dead. Six are missing. Some of the fires are so large that they’re forming their own weather systems complete with lightning strikes and gusts of soot-ridden air. “We would encourage all travellers coming to Australia to seek the most up to date information prior to departure, and remain informed about changing conditions whilst on the ground,” Tourism Australia said. “Travellers are also encouraged to speak with local tourism operators and staff at local Visitor Information Centres for advice about local conditions and how best to enjoy their time in Australia.”
Tourism Australia did not respond to VICE’s request for comment.