Hemsworth’s prank on clueless tourist
Actor Chris Hemsworth might have the lofty title of Tourism Australia's global ambassador, but he's still keen to have a laugh at visitors to our fair land.
At the launch of Australia's new global tourism campaign at the Sydney Opera House today, the Thor actor revealed he'd once tricked a young American traveller into a helicopter ride to his home town of Byron Bay during the Australian leg of a global press tour.
"We were lucky enough to be choppered from one place to the next," Hemsworth told the event's MC, radio star Michael "Wippa" Wipfli.
"On the way to the airport we saw a backpacker with a sign heading to the same location we were heading to. And we said, this will be pretty funny.
"We were like, 'Where are you headed?' and he said, 'Byron Bay'. So we were like, 'We'll give you a lift, mate'."
Hemsworth said the young hitchhiker was confused when he got in the car and it took off in the wrong direction, towards the airport and then straight onto the tarmac where a helicopter was waiting.
"He was a young American backpacker, a musician and just blown away," Hemsworth said.
"We flew right into the heart of Byron. And as we landed he turned to my mate and said, 'Is that Thor?'
"My mate was like, 'Nah, nah, it's not'. We got some mileage out of it."
Hemsworth shared the story this morning at the launch of Tourism Australia's new "Come Live Our Philausophy" tourism campaign, which aims to sell Australia's larrikin character and enviable lifestyle to the world.
The $38 million campaign will spruik nine core Aussie "philosophies" including mateship, a "no worries" attitude, love of nature, spirit of adventure, optimism and storytelling.
It will feature high-profile Aussies such as Hemsworth, Paul Hogan, Kylie Minogue, Terri Irwin, chefs Kylie Kwong, Curtis Stone and Ben Shewry, comedian Adam Hills, surfer Mick Fanning, writer Kathy Lette, filmmaker Warwick Thornton and billionaire entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes.
It will be rolled out over three years in key global tourism markets across Asia, Europe and North America, promoting the Australian lifestyle and attitude as much as iconic destinations and landmarks.
Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said while Australia was widely seen as a desirable place to visit, time, distance and "fashionability" were the challenges.
"People think they know Australia, they think they've seen and done it when they've been here. And it's really our job to tell them new and different stories," she said.
"We also are a destination that suffers from a bit of low urgency to come here. We are on everybody's bucket list, we know we're a really appealing destination to come to, but it's around the time, distance and cost - those rational barriers.
"People think, 'I'm going to get to Australia one day'. And our job is really to work out how to make that day today."
Australia attracted 8.6 million international visitors aged 12 and over in the 12 months to June 2019, a growth of 3 per cent on the previous 12 months.
Most international visitors came from China (1.32 million), followed by New Zealand (1.27 million), the United States (764,000) and the United Kingdom (674,000).
The new campaign attempts to tap into the spirit of Paul Hogan's hugely successful "Come and Say G'day" commercials of the early 1980s, which put Australia firmly on the global map.
Last year, Tourism Australia caught the attention of the United States with a trailer for a mock Crocodile Dundee film that aired during the Super Bowl.
The 60-second tourism ad, which featured Aussie heavyweights Chris Hemsworth, Margot Robbie and Hugh Jackman, initially generated confusion as people thought it was a trailer for a new film called Dundee.
But not all campaigns have been a success. While iconic, Tourism Australia's "So where the bloody hell are you?" campaign didn't quite hit the mark in 2007.
The commercial, which cost a whopping $180 million and catapulted a little-known Lara Bingle into stardom, was considered so distasteful it was banned in the UK and Canada over complaints about its "bad language".