Its Borders Shut, New Zealand Prods Local Tourists to ‘Do Something New’
AUCKLAND, New Zealand — In the world envisioned by a recent Tourism New Zealand advertisement, a khaki-clad employee of the fictional Social Observation Squad rescues wayward travelers from the clichés of Kiwi tourism.“Lower those arms nice and slow,” the officer, played by the comedian Tom Sainsbury, bellows through a megaphone to a pair of travelers committing a “summit spread-eagle” photo opportunity at Coromandel Peak, which overlooks the South Island’s Lake Wanaka. He pulls them away from the precipice and dispatches them instead on a bicycle winery tour.This lighthearted ad, intended for a domestic audience, went viral internationally last week for its tongue-in-cheek call to action: Stop posting unimaginative photos on social media, please — enough with the hot-tub shots and images of glossy beachside legs.But behind the irreverent slogan, “Please don’t travel under the social influence,” is a serious intent. Though the country has seen its pandemic-hit economy come surging back, regions that depend on foreign tourism remain devastated.
The New Zealand tourism board is, therefore, asking New Zealanders to do something quite difficult. Its “Do Something New” campaign — the Social Observation Squad video is the latest installment — encourages locals to find new ways to look at what is right in front of their noses.