Waitaki Tourism staff victims of racist abuse online

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The Waitaki District Tourism Board got a sour taste after staff appeared in the Candy marketing campaign have been the target of online abuse.

Tourism Waitaki said staff raised issues of “cyberbullying” and “racial harassment” after appearing in a series of online videos posted by the regional tourism promoter.

Promotional videos featuring staff exploring area attractions and Kiwi comedian Tom Sainsbury cost $ 17,000.

The whimsical one-minute video series was shared via Facebook and YouTube with mixed reactions.

If some Oamaruvians were “disgusted with the presentation of our region”, others were not put off by the video.

One viewer said it was “a little strange but I’m noting it”.

Sweet Spot: Comedian Tom Sainsbury has appeared in Waitaki Tourism marketing videos.  Photo / Supplied
Sweet Spot: Comedian Tom Sainsbury has appeared in Waitaki Tourism marketing videos. Photo / Supplied

Tourism Waitaki chairman Mike McElhinney said the videos were intentionally conflicting, to provide a “slice” in a busy domestic tourist market.

“With the borders closed, all regions are fighting over the same tourists,” the videos were commissioned to help the district stand out from larger and better funded regions.

According to Tourism Waitaki, the campaign has reached 2 million people.

As the self-proclaimed “Steampunk Capital”, he said the video served its purpose of portraying Waitaki and Oamaru as a “welcoming and somewhat quirky place.”

It’s a brand that even divides locals and is not for everyone.

Waitake Tourism employees have been abused online after appearing in a promotional video.  Photo / Supplied
Waitake Tourism employees have been abused online after appearing in a promotional video. Photo / Supplied

However, McElhinney said some of the comments went beyond criticism.

It was the staff who raised the online abuse with the tourist board, which was allegedly racial and personal in nature, targeting those who helped make the videos.

McElhinney said the content of the comments “has affected some staff to the point that they are afraid to be in public.”

It is understood that the comments were left by social media accounts owned by residents.

The offending online comments reported by Tourism Waitaki are being investigated by “relevant authorities”.

'Disgusted': Waitaki Tourism videos divided locals.  Photo / Supplied
‘Disgusted’: Waitaki Tourism videos divided locals. Photo / Supplied

The issue was raised with Netsafe New Zealand’s online safety charity.

A spokesperson for Netsafe told the Herald that businesses need to be aware that “a small percentage of the Internet is extremely intolerant” and that employers are responsible for the online safety of those who appear in marketing materials.

Employers need to know where videos will be viewed and that some people will be prone to being targeted for online abuse.

It is the employer’s responsibility to inform those appearing in a video of the potential repercussions and to protect those appearing in the documents from harm online.

The majority of NetsafeThe work advises individuals on the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

In the event that the online threats were credible or could result in physical harm, it was up to the police to investigate.

“If you are in a small community and have reason to believe the threats are credible, they should be reported to the police.”

The tourist office said it would continue to broadcast the videos and monitor comments online.

Tourism Waitaki said it was a small district trying to sell itself nationally.

“It’s no secret that the racism in New Zealand runs deep, and this is yet another case that shows the dangerous undercurrent of cyberbullying,” a spokesperson for the regional organization said. tourism.


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