A BABY wombat called George and a photobombing butterfly have proven even more effective than a bare-chested Thor in promoting Australia to the world.
The social media posts from the Australian Reptile Park and Symbio Wildlife Park were judged by Tourism Australia and Qantas to be the best promotion for the country in the past year.
In recognition of their global appeal, the videos and the Margaret River Discovery Company’s stunning Sunset Kangaroos photo will take centre stage at this month’s major tourism and trade event G’Day USA.
A who’s who of Australian A-listers are expected to attend the gala dinner on January 28 including Hugh Jackman, Ben Mendelsohn, Rachel Griffiths and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Judges looked for posts that best promoted Australia as a “memorable and desirable destination” with entries ranging from a bare-chested Chris Hemsworth at Qualia on Hamilton Island to the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour in Canberra.
Tourism Australia Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Ronson said the outstanding quality of entries demonstrated how enthusiastically and effectively Australia was embracing social media as a tourism marketing tool.
“What has struck me most strongly about this competition is not just the amazing quality of the photos and video submissions but the great stories that lie behind each of these postings and, importantly, the impressive results that have been delivered for all of these operators,” Ms Ronson said.
George’s adorable gait as he chased after ranger Tim at the Australian Reptile Park attracted 277,000 likes on Instagram and more than 60,000 comments, proving once again the broad appeal of Australia’s native animals.
Similarly, koala Willow’s look of bewilderment as a butterfly perched on her nose at Symbio Wildlife Park south of Sydney went viral, scoring an extraordinary 38 million views on social media.
Park visitation increased 66 per cent in the month that followed and has almost doubled since 2014-15.
Margaret River Discovery Company’s photograph of two moonlit kangaroos gained over 72,000 likes after owner/operator Sean Blocksidge was struck by the “most nuts beautiful” scene he’d ever witnessed.
Despite almost missing the moment because his camera was in the car, Mr Blocksidge managed to get the shot which was then used by media organisations worldwide.
He turned down payment offers in return for exclusivity, opting to provide the pic for free.
“I figured it was more valuable as destination promotion for Australia and the Margaret River region,” he said.
Federal Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo said social media was a great way to shocase the country as “almost everyone is on Instagram and Facebook”.
“Millions of people from across the globe can get a glimpse of Australia through a good post and it can be the spark that leads to a trip down under,” he said.
“The more inspiring images and stories about Australia that are shared on social media, the better it is for our tourism operators and the thousands of Australian’s working in the sector.
“This competition illustrates how important social media is in marketing Australia as a tourism destination and how adept our industry has become at utilising digital and social media to attract international visitors.”
Each tourism operator behind the winning posts will be flown by Qantas to LA for G’Day USA which promotes Australian tourism and trade to corporate America.