Tourism Australia has ’paused’ its high-profile advertising campaign amid devastating bushfires sweeping across the country.
The marketing campaign Matesong, which launched on Christmas Day, was the first overseas stage of Tourism Australia’s Philausophy campaign and represents its largest investment in the UK in more than a decade.
It features Aussie celebrities including Kylie Minogue, Shane Warne, Ash Barty, Ian Thorpe, Zac and Jordan Stenmark and the Aboriginal Comedy Allstars.
However, Australia hit headlines over the New Year for increasingly devastating wildfires ravaging the landscape.
The death toll has risen to 20 and a fluctuating number of people are still missing.
Aerial pictures taken by ITV show Kangaroo Island has been destroyed in the flames, and Travel 2 has said all tour operations to the island have been suspended until further notice.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham told ABC News the ad’s timing was "unfortunate": "But it’s also one of the reasons why it’s important that we continue to invest in tourism marketing.
"The fires will pass. Communities need to rebuild, and people who see this ad today will be making bookings to travel in six months’ time, nine months’ time, 12 months’ time."
A spokesperson from Tourism Australia confirmed the Matesong campaign had been paused.
Sally Cope, regional general manager at Tourism Australia, said: "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.
"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.
"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."