Boston will take on an Aussie flair this summer when advertisements promoting Melbourne are plastered on benches and bus shelters around the city. At the same time, more than 10,000 miles away, Boston’s image will get a similar boost Down Under.
It’s all part of a tourism advertising trade between the sister cities: Melbourne puts up posters bolstering Boston, Boston rolls out ads plugging Melbourne, and visitor numbers soar — that’s the idea, anyway.
The concept was dreamed up last year by City Councilor Michael P. Ross, who was inspired by an ad for New York that he saw while jogging through Barcelona last year.
“As a proud Bostonian, I thought, where are our ads?” said Ross, who is running for mayor. “It’s very important to have a focus on the outside world because it’s a very important part of our economy.”
The number of overseas visitors to Boston increased between 8 and 11 percent a year between 2009 and 2011 — three to four times the growth of domestic visitors, according to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. More important, said visitors bureau president Patrick Moscaritolo, international visitors spend more money because they stay longer.
“They are worth basically four times as much as domestic visitors,” he said.
Both Melbourne and Boston normally set aside a portion of their outdoor advertising space on city kiosks and bathrooms for municipal ads — recycling initiatives, arts festivals, public service announcements — and the cities simply swapped ad space to make room for each other’s promotions.
The posters, which depict glowing nighttime shots of each city, are scheduled to go up in June or July for less than a month.
The first one in Boston was unveiled at Government Center on Wednesday.
The cost for Boston to put up 50 ads on the other side of the world: $1,000 — which covered the cost to make the Melbourne posters.
Boston has seven other sister cities, including Barcelona, and Ross hopes to expand the advertising exchange to other partners.
“We are an international city” he said, “and it’s important that we do things that embrace that.”Katie Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.