(From left) Robin Byrne Tourism NSW Nth America; Russell Mills CEO Northern Rivers Tourism; Bob McTavish; Gary Sehagan International Surfing Museum and Irene Morgan Tourism NSW.
(From left) Robin Byrne Tourism NSW Nth America; Russell Mills CEO Northern Rivers Tourism; Bob McTavish; Gary Sehagan International Surfing Museum and Irene Morgan Tourism NSW.

Bay’s surf culture promoted in US

With local tourism leaders hoping for a major spin-off from Oprah Winfrey’s Australian travelling circus, Northern Rivers Tourism says it has already scored outstanding reach in the US with a consumer promotion celebrating the region’s surf culture.


The ‘Going Vertical in Byron Bay Sweepstakes’ was promoted throughout October and November through online advertising on TripAdvisor.com and supporting publicity in surf and outdoor adventure magazines and a range of online travel, surf and lifestyle blogs in the US.


Northern Rivers Tourism CEO Russell Mills said while not quite on the scale of Oprah’s audience, the publicity had an impressive reach of more than 54 million unique visitors to the sites.


“We heard that Oprah Winfrey’s entourage were blown away by their visit to the Northern Rivers region,” Mr Mills said.


“There is obviously some momentum of interest building in the US, as we too were blown away by receiving more than 13,500 entries to win a trip to Byron Bay with Northern Rivers Tourism and V Australia.”


 The prize of a trip for two flying Premium Economy with V Australia from the US to Byron Bay and Beyond has been won by Trevor Benner from Huntington Beach, California.


Going Vertical is a documentary film about the transition from longboard to shortboard surfing during the late 60s and early 70s.


It tells the story of the rivalry between Byron Bay’s Bob McTavish and American Dick Brewer who both lay claim to having kicked off the shortboard revolution.


 Produced by Lennox Head-based producer Robert Raymond and narrated by actor Simon Baker (star of The Mentalist), it had great reviews at the Cannes Film Festival.


“We saw the potential in leveraging the film to create publicity and a consumer database with partners in the film and surf industries,” Mr Mills said.


“This was supported by promoting packages to our region as part of our broader ‘Byron Bay and Beyond’ program.”


Northern Rivers Tourism hosted a private screening of Going Vertical in California in October to launch the competition, with the support of Tourism NSW’s North American office.


 The event, with special guest Bob McTavish and surfing luminaries from California attracted 100 people and the online competition received 13,593 entries.


“This gives us a great surge of interest to continue to promote the region with our 2011 international marketing program,” Mr Mills said.


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