TOURISM Australia has won a significant cyber-victory today after assuming control of the Twitter handle @Australia, with a private individual being stripped of the name after letting the much coveted account become inactive.
The @Australia handle was chosen by an unknown Twitter user in the early stages of the popular social networking website’s existence. The @Australia account attracted around 6500 followers since its registration despite having sent only one tweet, with many of the site’s users believing it to be the official account used by the Australian government.
The dormant @Australia account forced the country’s official tourism lobby to utilise the handle @SeeAustralia to promote the country abroad, causing confusion regarding which account was officially associated with the government. Many governments around the world utilise their country’s name as their Twitter handle, including @GreatBritain and @South Africa.
Despite the @SeeAustralia account attracting almost 40 000 followers, Tourism Australia claimed that not being able to use the @Australia handle was negatively impacting on their ability to establish a social media presence. A spokesperson for the organisation said that Tourism Australia hoped to increase their online marketing presence by taking control of the @Australia handle.
Tourism Australia said: “The advantages of having a country handle are pretty obvious. Sweden, GreatBritain and SouthAfrica are all managed by the country’s tourism boards. We believe the added visibility will significantly help extend the reach on Tourism Australia’s consumer Twitter account.”
The terms and conditions of Twitter state that any account that has not been used for a prolonged period of time may be deactivated by the site’s managers. Tourism Australia had made several attempts to contact the former owner of the @Australia handle hoping to negotiate a transfer of the account title, receiving no response and forcing Tourism Australia to wait until the account was deactivated before assuming the title.
@Australia tweeted: “@SeeAustralia is now @Australia. Thanks to our colleagues @AusGovCTO in Canberra. We’re working on something very special for you all.”
Twitter users took to the social networking site to congratulate Tourism Australia for reclaiming the @Australia handle, however several tweeters wondered why the country’s official Twitter account did not have a ‘blue tick’. The blue tick on Twitter indicates that a handle has been verified by Twitter staff and is used to ensure that celebrities and organisations are not misrepresented through false accounts.
Tourism Australia will be able to utilise their new @Australia Twitter handle to promote a range of new initiatives designed to promote the country as an appealing destination for international travel. Tourism Australia recently launched a new campaign based on the ‘Best Job in the World’ initiative managed by Tourism Queensland in 2009, which saw Englishman Ben Southall win a high-paying job on a tropical island after an internationally publicised competition.
Tourism Australia’s version of the ‘Best Jobs in the World’ campaign will offer six positions throughout the country, including a role as a wildlife caretaker in South Australia and an outback adventurer in the Northern Territory. The competition attracted around 275 000 expressions of interest in its first week with the majority of entries coming from the USA, France, Italy and the UK.