The hoax video of "French backpacker" Natalie Amyot has failed to boost tourism figures in Mooloolaba, according to local businesses.
The Youtube clip of Amyot's plea to find her Australian baby-daddy after a one-night stand in Mooloolaba, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, made headlines worldwide in early September. Soon after though, the story began to unravel -- as The Huffington Post Australia outlined here -- and it was soon revealed to be a trick; a viral marketing campaign cooked up by a local tourism agency.
"We just wanted to put Mooloolaba on the map because it's a wonderful place," said the video's creator in a follow-up clip confessing to the stunt.
At the time, Nigel Lucas, owner of the holiday company that commissioned the campaign, told HuffPost Australia the video would help boost Mooloolaba tourism.
"The benefits of how it will benefit the cafe owners and hoteliers will far outstrip any negatives the campaign will generate," he said.
"I understand, I do feel for them [people feeling upset]. But if it pushes forward [local businesses'] cause, then great... If we get a small percentage of the people who viewed the video, even 1 percent, then we're getting there," he said.
However, Mooloolaba businesses say they have not seen any evidence of the video leading to more visitors.
"Not at all. There's a lot of people talking about it, but everyone was saying it was a bit of a joke. We've seen nothing extra," said Shannon, the manager of Mooloolaba Beach Backpacker's hostel.
"A lot of people have negative opinions about it, saying it's a silly tourism gimmick. There aren't many people talking about it too much. Maybe it's too soon to tell, but we've had nobody come in saying they've come because of the video."
Trish Lowry, manager of the One Up bar, said she hadn't heard much talk of the video either.
"It's a bit hard to tell. We’ve just had the Iron Man event here over the weekend, and there was big influx of visitors, but there hasn't been any talk about [the video]," she said.
"For us, it was water off the duck's back. There wasn't a huge impact on our clientele, they didn't really have an opinion. Half of us in town weren't even aware of it."
Several other businesses, who declined to be named, also spoke of the video passing without much fuss in the local area.
"I didn't even pay attention to it. I don't follow that stuff," said the owner of one popular pub.
"It didn't affect us," said the manager of another.
The fallout from the video continues. The original clip now has more than 3.2 million views on Youtube, with the confession video racking up almost 520,000 views. The video's creator and star both appeared on Sunrise after the confession.
The local newspaper, the Sunshine Coast Daily, called it a "pathetic stunt" and a "sick marketing plot"
On Youtube, the video's creators seem to be enjoying the fame (or infamy). The Natalie Amyot Youtube page includes two compilation videos titled "Fooling the media in a few easy steps" and "viral video media coverage," seemingly happy with the media circus they created.
Tourism Mooloolaba did not return requests for comment.