“Cooee.” The call has been made by St George – a small rural community in the Southern Outback of Queensland, Australia – to its mates round the globe for help to become the Sunshine State’s “Small Tourism Town” winner for 2021.

St George has been named one of the finalists for the award – but now it is up to a popular vote to decide the winner. And, in a shire of fewer than 5000 residents, St George is calling on its international namesakes to help swell the polling numbers. “There are at least 25 other places round the world called ‘St George’ and we are putting out the call for them to vote for us in this competition,” Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O’Toole said today. “Then, of course, as soon as international travel is open again, we would love the residents of those other St Georges to plan a trip to visit us here on the banks of the mighty Balonne.”

The Queensland Tourism Industry Council is on the hunt for the State’s best tourism towns and has released a list of 37 towns for the public to vote on for Top Tourism Town and Small Tourism Town. St George – which gained notoriety last year for its tongue-in-cheek parody of Tourism Australia’s Matesong ad featuring Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue – is among the finalists for the Small Tourism Town Award. This is a part of the new national Top Tourism Town program, which aims to recognise diverse and outstanding destinations in Queensland, as determined by a panel of industry judges. The public vote will factor in 70 per cent of the result with the remaining 30 per cent from judges, with a Voter’s Choice award also to be presented.

Mayor O’Toole said some major towns are in the running for the awards but she believes St George has a unique tourism story to tell. “One thing that sets us apart is our community spirit,” Mayor O’Toole said. “St George truly is a welcoming place where the community has come together to create out-of-the-box ideas to overcome any hardships thrown our way, including drought, flood and COVID-19 in the last year alone. And visitors wanting to escape the rush and bustle of big-city life can sit on the banks of the Balonne, under the shade of a coolabah tree, and feel all that stress just drift away.”

The Mayor said, with the public vote factoring heavily on the outcome, it is important for people to go online and vote. Voting is open until April 26, with winners to be announced in May. The top two category winners will also go on to the national awards in August. To vote, visit: www.qtic.com.au/top-tourism-award/top-town-voting

The Mayor added that other towns called “St George” include at least 15 in the United States, two in Canada, and one each in Argentina, Bermuda, Ethiopia, Granada, Guernsey, Romania, Sierra Leone and South Africa. Council will be  contacting them to encourage voting support and future visitation.

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