Look, despite the fact that 90% of koalas have chlamydia or something, there aren’t many of us that wouldn’t jump at the chance to cuddle one.
Turns out, those cuddles don’t come cheap. Not when you use them for political gain, because obviously Australia’s entire tourism and international relations relies solely on reminding everyone how cute koalas are and hiding how deadly drop bears are. (EVERYBODY PLAY COOL.)
The most recent development comes with the news that Australia has loaned the Singapore Zoo four of our koalas for the next ten months at a cost of $133,100.
That $133,100 will go to quarantine and medical tests, documentation, and zoo staff training. Qantas, being the pro-Australia supporters that they are, are covering the transportation costs of both the koalas and the twice weekly delivery of eucalyptus leaves. (Yes, really. Twice a week. Those princesses.) Qantas won’t, however, cover Ms Bishop’s visits to Singapore.
Look in their defence, by all accounts Singaporeans are going apeshit for our koala bears (called Paddle, Chan, Pelita, and Idalia), which are a gift to celebrate 50 years of Australian-Singapore relations. And as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, positive international relations are kind of Julie Bishop’s job, right?
“The expenditure is modest in comparison with traditional tourism advertising and marketing budgets yet is expected to yield enormous benefits in terms of increased tourist numbers to Australia,” she said.
In 2013, Singapore was Australia’s 5th largest inbound market for visitors, and the Singapore tourism market is expected to be worth $2.3 – $2.8 billion by 2020. So maybe a hundred grand for a few koalas to say thanks mate isn’t so bad?