Tourism Australia is to invest $47.4m (A$50m) to be part of and to help generate the marketing hype around Baz Luhrmann's sweeping period romance Australia, which is in cinemas from November 13.

The government authority has signed a promotional partnership agreement with Twentieth Century Fox and will leap into the slipstream of the period film starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.

It has also hired Luhrmann and his production company Bazmark to produce at least two advertisements aimed at branding Australia as a must-visit destination for tourists. These stand-alone advertisements will reflect the key themes of the movie - the transformative nature of Australia 's vast landscape, for example - but not actually mention the movie.

While it is a marriage that seems to be made in heaven, the deal blurs the lines between entertainment and promotion, government and the private sector, and Australia and Hollywood. Tourism Australia clearly aims to get tourist bums on airline seats at a time when the strength of the Australian dollar and concerns about a worldwide recession are discouraging tourism, while the Twentieth Century Fox marketing machine wants bums on seats in cinemas.

Tourism Australia has described the move as 'a unique strategy to take advantage of a matchless opportunity' and said it is committed to aligning the majority of its marketing weight in 2008/2009 with the movie and this campaign. The materials will appear in major markets from October. The print, online and outdoor aspects of the campaign will be produced by advertising agency DDB Worldwide but based on Luhrmann's inspiration.

Given the major commitment of taxpayer dollars the deal is being questioned by the media. They are asking about the value of the campaign if the film turns out to be a flop, for example, and about Luhrmann's talent as a commercials director.

Fox has backed all three films made by Luhrmann since his little Aussie film Strictly Ballroom wowed audiences worldwide. This new film is about an English aristocrat (Kidman) who inherits an Australian cattle station the size of Belgium just as World War II beaks out. She reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle drover (Jackman) and is transformed by love and the land.