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2013 British & Irish Lions
Drugs scandal could impact on Lions tourism
February 13, 2013
British & Irish Lions fans swamp the field outside Kings Park in Durban ahead of the first Test, South Africa v British & Irish Lions, first Test, Kings Park, Durban, June 20, 2009
Lions tours have always attracted a strong following from the UK & Ireland © Getty Images
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Australia's doping scandal may harm its tourism industry according to Tourism Australia.

At least 20,000 fans are expected to visit Australia to watch the British & Irish Lions' nine-match tour and three-Test series against the Wallabies, and then tens of thousands English cricket fans are likely to arrive in November for the 2013-14 Ashes Series. But recent allegations of widespread doping by athletes and sport's links to organised crime may impact the number of visitors, Tourism Australia suggests.

"Ultimately, anything that sends over a detrimental image of Australia has an impact," TA's consumer marketing general manager Nick Baker told AAP on Wednesday. "Whether it was what happened in Melbourne [in 2009] with some of the Indian students [being bashed] - these things all have an effect on the brand of a country."

Baker urged overseas visitors to maintain a sense of perspective when reading or viewing media coverage of the unfolding scandal. "I hope people level a sense of fairness to whatever they read. And hopefully we'll get to an end to it and understand just how extensive it [the scandal] is. Because there's always the doubt and always the hype."

It comes as TA this week launched a social media campaign to try and lure British and Irish fans for the Lions tour, which begins with a warm-up match in Hong Kong against the Barbarians on June 1. It released a spoof video featuring former Lions coach Jim Telfer delivering his famous "Everest" speech to his players during the 1997 South Africa tour (see below).

In the new video, which is fast going viral and being shared among rugby fans, Telfer gives a pep-talk to a group of men who need to persuade their wives and girlfriends to let them go on the upcoming Australia tour.

"Convincing your mates to jump on the Lions tour to Australia is the easy bit. Now comes the hard bit, convincing your wives to let you go," Telfer tells the blokes. "This is your f***ing Everest boys, where there's sand instead of snow and where the sherpas wear bikinis."

Baker said Tourism Australia may well launch a similar social media campaign to try and lure English cricket fans for the 2013-14 Ashes Series, which starts in November.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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