LOOK, it wouldn’t be easy running a country’s tourism agency.
Tourism is a vital contributor to most national economies and a single strategy could make or break a country’s image.
Some tourism campaigns, like Australia’s Where the Bloody Hell are You? and New Zealand’s almost-too-successful 100% Pure, are iconic. Others, such as Syria’s recent, tone-deaf efforts, at least have the basic idea of self-promotion down pat.
And then you have the latest, ridiculous tourism campaign from Lithuania.
The tiny country boasts a stunning Baltic coastline, lovely woodlands and exciting cities rich with culture, among other drawcards.
Despite all this, Lithuania’s state tourism agency took the worst possible approach to promoting the country as a tourism destination — it used images of other countries instead.
Head of the State Tourism Department, Jurgita Kazlauskiene, resigned on Friday after local media blasted the agency for the campaign, which used stock images from Nordic and eastern European countries, the Associated Press reported.
And here’s the real kicker — the slogan of the dodgy campaign was “Real is Beautiful”.
Kazlauskiene owned up to the blunder and said she’d step down so “people who work here don’t become objects of ongoing attacks”, AP reported.
The $193,000 campaign was met with ridicule when it launched in October.
Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis even had a dig with a tongue-in-the-cheek Facebook comment on Thursday, in which he posted a photo of the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels and wrote: “We are moving government to this building tomorrow. Real is beautiful.”
The Lithuanian campaign now joins a rogue’s gallery of other tourism marketing campaigns that backfired in spectacular fashion.
Last year, “The Swedish Number” — an amusing campaign that let would-be tourists call a random Swede to ask about their country — inevitably fell victim to merciless trolling.
Volunteer ambassadors were subjected to an endless barrage of calls from foreigners more interested in grilling locals about European refugee crisis and sex.
Also last year, Syria’s Ministry of Tourism copped criticism over an odd video that spruiked war-ravaged Aleppo as a destination for holiday-makers, using the Game of Thrones theme as a soundtrack.
The video appeared to show off the city’s wide boulevards, impressive buildings and lush parks and cultivated in the words: “Aleppo: Will of Life”.
But those scenes were presumably filmed quite some distance from the eastern, rebel-held areas of Aleppo, which has been a major flashpoint in Syria’s brutal, five-year civil war.