Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Oprah Winfrey Tourism Recession?

The Brisbane Times reports on High hopes for Modern Family's Australian episode
Airing to 9.2 million US viewers on Wednesday, the episode will eventually hit a global audience of 125 million in what tourism bosses hope will be a priceless half-hour advertisement. 

The report describes "hackneyed stereotypes" and a media campaign by Tourism Australia to leverage the exposure. There are claims of substantial benefits for previous such exposure.
Oprah Winfrey's visit in 2010 saw half of US visitors the following year influenced to come here by the TV show. Ellen DeGeneres's Australian episode last year saw an inbound flights boosted by 22 per cent according to Qantas.
Previous posts here have indicated some cynicism on such claims and particularly the sustainability of such gains. Information and research on Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure can be found at Tourism Australia with qualitative positive outcomes reported. However the ABS chart of short term arrivals from the USA doesn't appear to show anything much at all in what was actually a weaker period in arrivals from the USA.

Oprah visited in December 2010 and the episodes screened in the USA in January. One could even be cruel and suggest that arrivals from the USA started to roll over as soon as Oprah announced her intended adventure in September 2010? That would be unfair as obviously there can be a gap of some months between an event, bookings and travel. Also leisure travel is only a component of ABS arrivals which include such a business travel.

Google Trends do indicate increased search traffic on "Australia" in the USA at that time. However I can't find any such Google Trend related to Ellen DeGeneris last year, who frankly I have never heard of. Arrivals from the USA have been robust in the past year with 12.2% trend growth in the year to February 2014. I doubt that Ellen is mostly responsible for that growth.

The GFC, recession and recovery will also likely have had some impact on travel trends from the USA. The chart above also graphs the $AUD in terms of the $US. It is the inverse of what is reported on the nightly news and how many $AUD a visitor can buy with a $US. I have skilfully manipulated scales and a 6 month rolling average to emphasise any correlations.

With the G20 coming up there are certain to be further interesting reports and claims on economic benefits of such events. I note that the Member for Cairns referenced such in his recent Chamber presentation which I may return to.

Related Posts: The Paul Hogan Myth; Events Extravaganza Expose; G20 Hyperbole?

Links: USA Market Profile from Tourism Australia; Modern Family episode a fail for FNQ tourism by Sam Davis at Newsport; A review: Modern Family's Australian episode was a clich├ęd travelogue

1 comment:

  1. Agree that it can be difficult (impossible?) to equate changes in arrivals with things such as TV shows; how on earth do you strip out the "show effect"? On the Oprah effect I would suggest that any increase in actual arrivals could be as late as 12 months from the airing. By the time plans have been made, trips booked and paid for and finally taken it is inevitable that there will be a significant lag. As you point out, arrivals from the US have seen some strength recently. How much of that is due to these TV shows is anyone's guess. I suspect we can probably fall back on the concept that any such publicity can only be a good thing for tourism.