QUEENSLAND needs to push past its reputation as a “creepy-crawly jungle” to increase European tourists, a conference has been told.
Tourism Queensland’s Europe regional director Kai Ostermann told an industry conference in Brisbane today that while Germany, France and Italy were key markets for the state, there were several barriers in convincing tourists from continental Europe to come Down Under.
He said many Europeans believed Australia was too far away, required a six-week minimum stay to see everything and was a holiday only taken once in a lifetime.
And some believed Queensland was a place in the UK and therefore a dreary holiday spot, Mr Ostermann said.
But even those who knew it was in Australia might be put off as continental Europeans were particularly wary of snakes, spiders, stingers and sharks, he said.
The popular British TV show I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of Here, in which celebrities are sent to the “deadly” Australian “jungle”, had not been helpful in promoting the country as a tourist destination.
“We get scared by all that crap, then we see it on prime-time,” the German-based Mr Ostermann said.
“It scares us all away.”
He said one series of the show had prompted Tourism Queensland to run a story in a German magazine promoting Queensland as a “paradise” to downplay the label it had earned on the show.
Meanwhile, many English travellers felt “fatigued” with Australia and were being put off coming because they felt they already knew the country inside-out, Tourism Queensland’s UK, Ireland and Nordic regional director Jane Nicholson told the conference.
“They see the soaps, they hear Australian accents on the way to work,” she said.
“We need to tell them there’s more to us.”
Nevertheless, there were still plenty of Europeans eager to experience a “Sydney, rock and reef” holiday, she said.
Visitors from European countries such as the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland and Switzerland are forecast to increase by between 3-6 per cent a year to 2016.