I dip my hat to our worthy cousins across the Tasman. Heaven knows they punch way above their weight in almost everything, but to overhaul us in the world tourism stakes may be a bit much.
Even if just by sheer dint of our size, Australia packs a heavyweight’s slam when it comes diversity, international significance and outright size. The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, for example, has a block booking with Qantas (the world’s safest airline) to continue their long list of inscriptions in Australia. As it stands, Australia outnumbers New Zealand 16:3 in the World Heritage stakes, with two more slated for the next intake. Sounds like a rugby score, doesn’t it?
Now I’m not about to slight the Māori, those handsome and powerful Polynesians from all over the Pacific, but Australia’s indigenous people were here first – by a long shot. Māori arrived on the untouched lands of Aotearoa just 1500 years ago, whereas our Aborigines were here well over 40,000 years ago. Their incredibly long and mystical relationship with this equally ancient land makes for a saga of monumental proportions.
But let’s remove the emotion and get down to science. I’m not about to reignite that “bloody” debate, but Australia continually rates amongst the top in one of, if not the only, index that rates a nation's brand name value: The Anholt Nations Brand Index (NBI).
NBI creator, Simon Anholt, says the quarterly poll highlights how each nation is viewed by the rest of the world, reflecting aspects of trade, tourism and immigration.
“One of the basic rules of branding in the commercial field is that for a company to build a successful and powerful brand, its employees need to believe in the brand too. The same is surely true for countries,” says Anholt when referring to Australia.
We regularly figure in all the NBI’s top rankings which include exports, people, governance, tourism, culture and heritage, immigration and investment. New Zealand, while I acknowledge the spirit, has yet to top us in any of these categories, save for government, but that hardly counts. Australia currently holds the top spot as a holiday destination "if money was no object", is a regular “most friendly” and also ranks as the country richest in natural beauty, closely followed by (okay, okay) New Zealand.
In short the world sees Australia as THE “aspirational” destination. It’s vast and impressive and a long way from most everything else, save for New Zealand, and if the world had to choose, and sorry but the scores are in, it’s Australia.