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Ad campaign to woo ‘safety-conscious’ tourists away from Asia to Australia amid coronavirus fears

IOC member and Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates on Thursday said the IOC had been working with the World Health Organisation since the start of the outbreak.

“They have made it very clear to us that there is no case for postponing or cancelling the Games at all provided that all of the requirements on the Japanese side of people coming in are followed,” he said.

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the government was looking at targeting tourists still willing to travel and emphasising that Australia was a safe location despite the threat of coronavirus elsewhere.

He said Australia was in a “strong position in terms of being seen as a very safe destination for those who might be concerned about coronavirus”, with no new recent infections in the country.

“Australia is a stand-out in terms of public health and safety management of this issue and in terms of safety-conscious travellers we want to make sure they’re aware we can provide a safe but exciting [destination],” he said.

Data from the UK’s Office of National Statistics shows 427,000 Britons visited mainland China in 2018 and 225,00 went to Hong Kong. More than 6.2 million US tourists visited Asia in 2018.

The specific details of the campaign were yet to be “nailed down”, Senator Birmingham said, but it was likely to be smaller and more “tactical” than the controversial Kylie Minogue-fronted campaign that was suspended in early January amid the bushfires.

A ban on all non-Australian residents travelling from China to Australia was on Thursday extended by a week to February 29, compounding the economic pain of the fire season by preventing the arrival of 120,000 tourists a month from China.


Qantas on Thursday announced it would cut flights into Asia by 15 per cent until the end of May and take a $150 million hit to its profit due to the coronavirus, triple the cost of the 2003 SARS outbreak.

A Tourism Australia spokesman said Chinese travellers would return once the ban was lifted and the organisation remained “committed” to Australia’s No.1 tourist market.

“We are already planning what support we can provide to ensure Australia quickly re-positions itself as a welcoming and safe destination for Chinese visitors,” he said.

Chinese businesses are expected to get some economic relief from an interest rate cut delivered by the country’s commercial banks on Thursday, but streets in Beijing and Shanghai remain largely empty. Capital Economics has forecast one-third of small private firms will run out of cash in the coming two weeks unless activity normalises.

At the same time as it looks to pump up the economy with stimulus, the Chinese Communist Party is ramping up its propaganda and censorship efforts in an attempt to stimulate national solidarity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would expel three Wall Street Journal reporters on Wednesday night after the newspaper published a headline on an opinion piece that said “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia”. The US had earlier announced it would declare five Chinese state-run news agencies as foreign missions of the Chinese government.

Chinese state media organisation Global Times said in an editorial on Thursday there was no connection between the two events. “But it is not completely coincidental that they happened at about the same time.”

With Georgina Robinson

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