Tourism Victoria is looking for a public and media relations agency to position Melbourne and the rest of the state as a must-see Australian destination.
Outbound travel from the UK to Australia has been in steady decline between 2007 and 2011, with a 10.5 per cent drop in travel in 2010-11 alone (Office for National Statistics).
A source said continual increases in Air Passenger Duty, which affects the price of consumers' flights from the UK, have had a huge impact on visitor numbers.
The winning agency will be charged with developing publicity programmes to 'communicate, update and motivate' both the consumer and travel trade media. It is keen to boost awareness of the region's opportunities through themes such as city life, natural attractions, and food and wine.
In addition, the body is keen to shake off the perception that Melbourne is 'Australia's second city' after Sydney, and aims to develop a programme of media visits to promote Melbourne and Victoria's status as the 'sporting and cultural capital' of Australia.
The contract runs until the end of June 2015 with the possibility of an extension and, according to a well-placed source, is worth between £6,000 and £8,000 per month. Incumbent Four bgb will repitch for the business.
Tourism Victoria will select an agency over the next few weeks to start work in July and Claire Goulding, regional manager of the body for the UK and Europe, will be running the pitch out of its London office.
The brief emphasises the importance of managing digital assets, which include the Visit Melbourne blog and the organisation's Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Tourism Victoria denied that it was experiencing falling tourism numbers and said the review was a process it entered into every few years.