SYDNEY Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras are hoping a combination of a low Australian dollar and a drag queen hoisted high on the roof of the Opera House will lead to a surge in international visitors next year as the world-famous festival looks to recover from a lacklustre 2014 season.
A social media tourism campaign, launched today, features the American Apparel model and former Australian Idol contestant atop the iconic landmark, harbour shimmering below, extolling the uniqueness of the festival and the city.
Act, who is now based in the US, said she flew in especially for the shoot earlier in the year.
“I never imagined I’d be photographed on top of Sydney Opera House, let alone in full drag,” she said.
“Sydney is the best summer city in the world and Mardi Gras is the ultimate time to experience all it has to offer… what’s not to love.”
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras confirmed festival favourites, including the Fair Day “picnic in the sun” Parade and Party, will return.
However, it’s likely the Pool Party, which organisers say will be a “Palm Springs playground for grown-ups with a retro 50s St Tropez vibe”, and a sunset harbour cruise will be high on the list of tourists must-dos along with the Harbour Party that will again see party-goers take over the shores of Mrs Macquaries Point at twilight.
The launch comes just weeks after the announcement of a two-year partnership between Mardi Gras and the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association which will see the organisation’s members, including travel agents and hotels aimed at the LGBTI market, receive commissions for selling Party and Parade seating area tickets as part of holiday packages.
Festival organisers are hoping the new initiatives will lead to bums on airline seats and reverse a $178,000 loss suffered on the most recent season, much of which was down to lower-than-expected ticket sales for the Party.
Mardi Gras chief exective Michael Rolik said: “Mardi Gras attracts on average 30,000 visitors each year and with the lower Australian dollar we expect this number to increase in 2015″.
He added that tour operators would “have the opportunity to tap into this growth” through selling festival tickets.
Last week Mardi Gras announced the season theme as Passion with Paradegoers encouraged to “shout it from the rooftops and let that sound be the music we dance to”.
The 2015 Mardi Gras festival will run from February 20 to March 8 2015 with tickets for key events going on sale this month.
Click here to see Courtney Act in Mardi Gras’ new social media campaign.