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Baz Luhrmann's Australian tourism campaign - hit or miss?

by Tom 20/02/2009 13:15:00

While they were launched to much fanfare, there are signs that not everyone is entirely delighted by the results of Baz Luhrmann's series of ads promoting Australia (as covered in a previous blog post). In fact, some notable figures from the Australian tourism community are saying that many businesses have been forced to take matters into their own hands when it comes to attracting travellers.

Speaking on the situation forced upon a number of companies in the Australian tourism sector, Managing Director of the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), Matt Hingerty was quoted as saying "The industry is taking the response into their own hands. You would have seen a lot of retailing activity - cost cutting, advertising and so forth - because the big national branding exercise being conducted by Tourism Australia is just irrelevant to them at the moment. They're struggling for survival."

However, Mr Hingerty's comments come amidst contradicting reports that interest in Australia has never been higher; in a recent poll of over 5,500 people, Australia has been voted the most desired destination by travellers. Unfortunately, the poll also revealed that two-thirds of these potential Australia holiday visa travellers are being forced to rethink their holiday plans as a result of the global economic crisis; indicative that the lack of a tourism boom might not be poor old Baz' fault after all.

What's more, it'd be unfair to say that Luhrmann's recent efforts haven't proved inspirational to at least two individuals out there; namely Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish of BBC 6 Music's Saturday morning radio show. As part of their regular 'Song Wars' feature, both Adam and Joe wrote and recorded an original song inspired by their experiences watching 'Australia'.

They might not be exactly the kind of response Mr Luhrmann was hoping for, but they're still definitely worth a listen (especially if you weren't able to spare the three hours to see the film). Check them out below.

Adam Buxton's 'Australia' song


Joe Cornish's 'Australia' song


- Tom Blackett is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Celebrating 60 years of Australian citizenship

by Tom 18/02/2009 12:57:00

60 years of Australian citizenship

It's a monumental month for migrants in Australia, with February 2009 marking 60 years of Australian citizenship. First introduced in 1949 through the enactment of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, it marked the shift from Australian residents being regarded as British subjects to being fully acknowledged citizens of Australia.

It's interesting to look back at those early days of Australian citizenship and see how they contrast to today. For example, at the first citizenship ceremony on 3 February 1949, seven men were chosen to represent each state and the ACT. As a representation of the diversity of the migration population of Australia at that time, each came from a different country; Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Spain and Yugoslavia.

Were the same symbolic ceremony to take place today, it'd be a very different (and certainly less Eurocentric) group of residents on Australia visas taking part. According to the 2007-08 DIAC report, the top countries for citizenship applicants to come from today are the UK, India, China, South Africa, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Malaysia.

Additionally, 1949's Australian citizenship applicants didn't have to face the same hurdles as today's, with the Australian citizenship test probably the most obvious difference. While it was designed to "play a valuable role in both encouraging people to find out more about Australia, as well as understanding the responsibilities and privileges being an Australian citizen brings", the test has faced some stern criticism since its introduction on 1 October 2007.

For example, knowing the answer to "who is Australia's greatest cricketer?" (a question rumoured to have been personally implemented by former Australian prime minister and cricket fanatic, John Howard) seems like a curious way to gauge whether an applicant is worth of being granted Australian citizenship.

However, regardless of the various foibles and quirks of the process, the history of Australian citizenship still stands as something to be celebrated (regardless of whether you're already Down Under or just thinking of emigrating to Australia). While the government has the usual formalities set in place (commemorative coins and anniversary-themed conferral ceremonies ahoy!), we can't think of a better way to mark the occasion than by cracking open a cold one and raising a toast to the 4 million migrants who've been successful in gaining citizenship over the past 60 years. Join us, won't you?

Cheers!

- Tom Blackett is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Australian working holidays on MySpace and Bebo, but not Facebook? Not anymore...

by Tom 17/02/2009 11:24:00

In the 6 months between July and December 2008, over 20,800 Australian working holiday visas were granted to UK citizens; a boost of over 3,000 when compared to the same period of time in 2007. The reason for this dramatic increase?  Social networking.

These vibrant online worlds of blogging, photo-adding and kudos-giving might seem far removed from the somewhat drier culture of visa processing to the casual observer. However, Tourism Australia and the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) have made a decent effort of combining the two with their working holidaymaker-targeted pages on MySpace and Bebo

Speaking of the success of the social networking initiatives, Tourism Australia's General Manager for the UK and Europe, Rodney Harrex said: “These campaigns are getting cut through with our target audience and the results are showing in the increased applications for, and grants of, the Australian Working Holiday Visa.”

However, isn't there something missing? While MySpace and Bebo might still have their loyal followers, it's Facebook that has been firmly established as the dominant social network. Bewilderingly, Tourism Australia has yet to establish a presence on Facebook for any keen potential working holidaymakers... which is where we've stepped in.

Australian Working Holiday Facebook page

As you can see from the screenshot above, we've established the Australian Working Holiday Facebook page. What's more, and as testament to the social spirit of working holidaymakers, we've already gained almost 70 fans without even officially announcing the page (many of whom have already begun chatting about their plans Down Under).

The Facebook page will act as an accompaniment of sorts to our Platinum Card website, which was established as an exclusive hub of information and offers for Australian Visa Bureau working holiday clients. However, with the Facebook page, we'll be able to reach a new level of interactivity with the many working holidaymakers we help on the road to Oz. We'be be updating our Facebook page on a regular basis, and will be on hand to answer any questions you might have. In the meantime, feel free to add us to your Facebook and join in the conversation!

- Tom Blackett is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

e-Borders travel database - immigration evolution or an invasion of privacy?

by Tom 16/02/2009 10:47:00

The first steps are being made to transforming the monitoring process for the entry and exit of visitors to and from the UK, through the launch of the new e-Borders travel database programme. However, while the government is resolute in its position that the database is essential in the fight against crime and illegal immigration, others are claiming that it represents a compromise of personal freedoms.

The e-Borders programme will track and store the international travel records of anyone passing through UK immigration, with these computerised records set to then be stored for up to 10 years in a database. Early 2009 saw a National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC) begin operation as a hub for e-Borders, allowing the government to begin compiling travel histories for passengers.

It's a move that hasn't been without its detractors, as members of both opposition parties have been quick to judge e-Borders as another example of governmental intrusion. Shadow Home Secretary for the Conservatives, Chris Grayling, was particularly scathing in his comments that: "The government seems to be building databases to track more and more of our lives....the truth is that we have a government that just can't be trusted over these highly sensitive issues. We must not allow ourselves to become a Big Brother society."

Shadow Home Secretary for the Liberal Democrats, Chris Huhne, joined Mr Grayling in drawing Orwellian allusions, stating: "We are sleepwalking into a surveillance state and should remember that George Orwell’s 1984 was a warning, not a blueprint."

While these comments might be a little too dramatic in tone, it's certainly true that the UK Borders Agency have done little to sway the public's fears that e-Borders will be used as a tool of security, rather than intrusion. Although some figures have been released as proof of e-Borders use in tracking dangerous criminals, most other information provided has dealt in rather broader terms, with the liberal use of buzzwords such as 'security' and 'border control' given as justification to what seems like such a drastic new introduction.

However, it should be remembered that the e-Borders programme isn't a trail-blazer by any means; countries like Australia have had similar methods of monitoring the entrants to their respective countries for some time, with the Australian ETA visa system commonly regarded as one of the most efficient short-term visa systems in the world.

The USA has also taken steps to provide a more defined structure to their already tough stance on immigration, with the recently introduced ESTA now mandatory for all entrants to the United States.

So, could it be that e-Borders is just the UK bringing its migration security up to standard with the rest of the world? Perhaps, but a definitive answer could take as long as 5 years to arrive - the e-Borders programme is only set to be fully established in monitoring the departures and arrivals of all UK travellers by 2014, meaning the debate of what it truly represents could continue for some time.

- Tom Blackett is the Online Editor for the UK Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Australian Bushfires: How to Help

by Andy 09/02/2009 10:39:00

You may have read about the bushfires racing through Victoria, especially through small towns on the outskirts of Melbourne.  In Victoria, the bushfires have already claimed over one hundred lives and destroyed entire towns.

We at the Visa Bureau would like to extend our hopes for the safety of our clients, and our families and friends, who may be affected by the bushfires.

If you would like to help those affected by the fires, we would encourage you to make a donation to the Australian Red Cross.  You can learn more about the Australian Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009 at this website: http://www.redcross.org.au

Please note that the Australian Red Cross is dealing with unprecedented traffic to its website, so you may need to be patient.

UPDATE: Additionally, if you are concerned for the safety of family and friends in the areas affected by the bushfires in Victoria and have been unable to contact them directly, we advise you call the Australian Red Cross hotline on + 61 3 9328 3716.

Our hopes are with everybody in the area, and with the firefighters and soldiers working to stop the flames.

- Andy Harwood is the CEO of the Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.