Victorian anti-tourism campaign

A Victorian anti-tourism campaign urging Australians to stay away from regional towns that started as a joke has become a social media hit.

And while it has its fair share of fans, its detractors are not happy.

The Do not visit Victoria ‘campaign’ is riddle with expletives and is equal parts genius and toilet humour.

The brainchild of two Melbourne advertising creatives, copywriter Jess Wheeler from advertising agency Fenton Stephens and designer Guillermo Carvajal, the campaign was created to help thwart metro travellers from carrying COVID-19 into regional towns.

Some regional centres not already included in the first iteration of the project are asking to be included to help minimise the risk of coronavirus being brought into to their towns.

However, some tourism officials say the campaign could be doing more harm than good for towns that rely on other regional tourists.

Featuring retro images of tourist hotspots such as Apollo Bay, Bendigo and Ballarat coupled with themes riddled with expletives, the campaign has been a hit – and hit a nerve.

“We were just spit-balling ideas as to what we can do in this situation and were reading about how people from Melbourne were fleeing to regional Victoria, either to their holiday homes or just trying to shack up in hotels,” said Mr Wheeler.

The message to fellow Melburnians in lockdown was simple.

“People of Melbourne, we love you, but right now you are letting us all down,” he said.

“As we enter our second lockdown, amid the highest infection numbers to date, the gravity [of the situation] appears to have eluded some of you.

“It’s quite distressing for the towns that don’t have the infrastructure to handle an outbreak”.

But some officials from towns represented in the spoof project aren’t happy.

“We’re very reliant on day-trippers and short-stayers to keep coming from regional areas in Victoria, specifically the Latrobe Valley and east of Melbourne,” the president of the Lakes Entrance Business and Tourism Association Shane Kidd told The Age.

The mayor of the Alpine Shire that includes Bright appreciated the humour by questioned whether it was appropriate.

“I get the humour, but in reality it’s probably one step too far for quite a large number of people in our community,” he said.

“We have people in our communities who have come through the bushfires, gone through the first round of COVID-19 and now have alpine resorts closing on them.

“That puts an enormous burden on the residents and our communities when we’ve got business accommodation providers closing because people from Melbourne are trying to circumvent the rules around lockdown to try to holiday in our area.”

Mr Wheeler said beyond the humorous delivery a serious message was within.

“This situation is about us all sticking together,” he said.

“While the message has an ‘us and them’ tone in the humour, the underlying message is this a way for us all to support each other and stay put and not spread this thing around.”

What do you think of the campaign?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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