Corroboree 2008 Presents Opal Awards & Heralds Upcoming Film “Australia”


Michelle Gysberts, vice president of Tourism Australia Americas, and Rita Drucker, senior vice president of feature film promotions for Twentieth Century Fox, flanked by images from the upcoming Baz Luhrmann film, Australia

Corroboree 2008 just finished four days of education and networking at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza in Thousand Oaks, CA. Corroboree is a retail training event that assembles Aussie Specialist Travel Agents from the U.S., Canada and Latin America to meet industry partners, Australian suppliers, wholesalers, airline execs and representatives from Australia’s State and Territory Tourism Offices. This year, 164 certified Aussie Specialist travel agents and 69 sellers of Australian tourism products attended the event.

The huge buzz at this year’s Coroboree was the upcoming film Australia, helmed by visionary filmmaker Baz Luhrman. The sweepingly romantic period film is set in Australia’s Northern Territory and is due to open this November. The story, which is set in 1942 and stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, is already being talked up as a potential Gone With the Wind or Titanic. Tourism players from Down Under and Twentieth Century Fox have teamed up for a full-court marketing press.

“Not since Titanic has a film appealed to such a wide audience,” says Rita Drucker, senior vice president of feature film promotions for Twentieth Century Fox.

The key marketing message is, “Lose yourself in the movie, find yourself in Australia.”

According to Michelle Gysberts, vice president of Tourism Australia Americas, Australia is the #1 desired destination— but it’s a dream destination. There’s a lack of immediacy in following through with a trip. “This movie has the potential to bring Australia to top-of-mind,” says Gysberts.

Agents can expect to see tour operators designing itineraries that retrace the steps of the characters played by Kidman and Jackman in the film.

Australia’s Opal Awards

On the final night of Corroboree 2008, agents and suppliers assembled at The Reagan Library for this year’s Opal Awards, which are given to Aussie Specialists who have excelled in marketing and selling Australian vacations to their clients. The awards are voted by a select panel of industry representatives.

This year’s winners were:

Marketing Campaign: Michelle Mangio, Magical Escapes Vacations

Best Consumer Event: Barb MacKenzie and Sunnie Rossi, What’s Cooking Down Under

Best FIT Itinerary: Donna Jane White

Best Luxury Itinerary: Robert Fisher

Best Niche Itinerary: Mary Hickman

In addition, three awards are voted for by the Aussie Specialists:

Best Wholesaler: Down Under Answers

Best State Tourism Operator:
Tourism Queensland

Best Experience: Exceptional Kangaroo Island