Tourism Australia has paused its brand new $15 million ad campaign as tourists are evacuated from bushfire areas

  • The $15 million ‘Matesong’ campaign designed to encourage UK travel to Australia has been put on pause as bushfires continue to burn.
  • Tourism Australia told Business Insider Australia it had “reduced” the campaign and would review its plans for the coming months, stating its number one priority remained the emergency bushfire response.
  • Both the UK government and the US embassy have issued warnings to visitors about the fires, with popular holiday destinations in New South Wales having been evacuated over the holiday period.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

It was well-intentioned but ultimately poorly-timed.

Tourism Australia’s $15 million campaign to encourage UK visitors has been paused as bushfires rage down the country’s east coast.

“In light of the current situation in Australia, we have reduced some of our campaign activity in the UK and will continue to review our planned activity over the coming months,” a spokesperson told Business Insider Australia.

“The number one priority right now continues to be the emergency response to these devastating bushfires and the safety of communities and tourists in affected areas.”

The high-profile campaign features cameos from singer Kylie Minogue, tennis number one seed Ash Barty, and former Australian cricketer Shane Warne.

“As the Australian Government agency responsible for attracting tourists to our country, Tourism Australia will have an important role to play in highlighting that Australia will continue to be a world-leading and safe tourism destination, whether in unaffected regions or those that will recover from these bushfires in the months and years to come,” a spokesperson added.

Tourist areas such as New South Wales south coast and the Snowy Mountains were evacuated over the holiday period as fires burnt across the east coast. In response, the US Embassy issued a travel warning urging visitors to leave affected areas.

Meanwhile, the UK government has cautioned its citizens considering travel to Australia.

“Australia continues to battle serious bushfires across multiple regions. Authorities in some regions have declared a State of Emergency and ordered road closures and evacuations. Poor air quality can occur some distance from the sites of the fires and provoke respiratory conditions,” the UK Government’s updated travel advice reads.

Tourism Australia, however, maintains there is plenty of the country left to visit.

“Whilst bushfires continue to impact parts of Australia, many areas are unaffected and most tourism businesses are still open. It is more important than ever that we rally around our communities and the tourism sector who may have been impacted,” it said in a statement.

With this season expected to continue for some months yet, some tourists may simply choose to stay home instead.

READ MORE: Here are 8 ways you can donate money to Australia’s bushfire relief effort

READ MORE: I spent New Year’s trapped by Australian bushfires that looked like a scene from a warzone