Australia looks to lure Hollywood due to low COVID-19 cases

Sydney, Australia, Jul 17 (efe-epa).- Australia is looking to lure major Hollywood productions with tax breaks and an incentive program amid low COVID-19 case numbers in the country.

The Australian government announced on Friday that it will spend AU$400 million ($280 million) over the next seven years to attract film and television productions to the country, which would also create thousands of jobs.

“Australia’s relative success in managing COVID-19, compared to so many other parts of the world, means we are now in a unique position to attract a longer term pipeline of major screen productions here in Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office said in a statement.

Since the start of the coronavirus epidemic, Australia has recorded just over 11,000 confirmed cases, including 116 deaths, although there has been a concerning resurgence of cases in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, where about 5 million people placed under lockdown again last week, this time for a period of six weeks.

Major film and television productions have been paralyzed around the world in the wake of the pandemic that has infected 13.8 million people worldwide and has already left some 590,000 dead, according to the independent count of Johns Hopkins University.

Health and safety measures implemented by many countries has led to the suspension of film and TV projects, although in other nations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, shooting has resumed with strict COVID-19 protocols, including quarantines for staff.

“Whether it’s Hollywood or Bollywood, or wherever they’re coming for, they know they can come here and make the films that will create great success,” said the Australian prime minister while announcing the initiative from Gold Coast, where movies such as the Thor and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises have been shot, among others.

Morrison said that the incentive has prompted a response from several Hollywood producers, who have expressed interest in filming in the country.

Australia intends to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand, whose government has drawn international praise for its prompt response to the pandemic and which has allowed major international productions, including “Avatar” and “Lord of the Rings” crews, to enter the country to film after a quarantine period.

The Australian government estimates that the initiative will help Australia attract about AU$3 billion in foreign expenditure and create 8,000 new jobs for locals annually. EFE-EPA


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