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September 12, 2000
Aus tourism drive wins plauditsMichael Perry
IOC director of marketing Michael Payne said Australia was the first host nation to exploit fully the tourism potential of the Olympic Games.
"Barcelona set a new standard and Sydney has surpassed that," Payne told reporters.
"Australia is the first Olympic host nation to take full advantage of the Games to vigorously pursue tourism for the benefit of the whole country," Payne said.
"It's something we've never seen take place to this level before and it's a model that we would like to see carried forward to future Olympic Games in Athens and beyond."
The Australian Tourist Commission said the Sydney Olympics had transformed the world's perceptions of Australia beyond the stereotypical kangaroos and koalas and was forecast to attract more than 22 million tourists, worth A$87 billion ($51 billion), over the next four years.
"There is absolutely no doubt that tourism is the new dimension of the Olympic Games," said ATC managing director John Morse.
He said the ATC's four-year Sydney Olympic strategy had put Australia in the top three ideal destinations for 10 of its 12 key markets.
The ATC expects 111,000 international tourists to arrive in the next three weeks for the Sydney Olympics, but the tourism boom will really take off following the biggest advertisement for Australia in its history, including a three-week broadcast from the city by the U.S. Today Show which has an audience of more than 30 million households.
Morse said IOC research estimated 71 percent of the world's population would watch the Sydney Olympics -- the largest audience in Games history -- with the biggest increase coming from China.
IOC research found 79 percent of Chinese would tune in to the Sydney Games, along with 88 percent of Japanese and 72 percent of North Americans.
The ATC's Olympic strategy has been to broaden the image of Australia beyond clichéd kangaroos and koalas to include culture and technology. "Australia will no longer be just the Land Down Under," said Morse.
Nevertheless, monitoring of international media by the ATC has found that in the past week many stories still focused on the strange "Aussie lingo" and Australia's deadly animals.
The upside was that 72 percent of Australian tourism stories were positive and 28 percent neutral. Of news stories only five percent were negative, focusing on Aboriginal issues, Sydney food prices and Sydney airport baggage problems.
Morse said he did not believe negative Sydney Olympic stories could damage the Australian tourism industry in the face of such overwhelming publicity.
The ATC said inbound tourism had increased by 9.5 percent in the four months to April 2000, compared with the previous period in 1999, setting Australia up for a record 4.7 million international tourists in calendar 2000.
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