With much fanfare and some delay, Chris Hemsworth has appeared as the face of a new ad campaign for Emirates Airlines and Dubai's Expo 2020.
The star of Tourism Australia and the Marvel superhero movies appears to have ditched regular brand ambassadorial duties to promote travel overseas.
However, Emirates - the official airline partner for the world fair in Dubai - was quick to clarify that the promotional video had been filmed through a partnership in 2019 before the pandemic.
The 90-second video advert fronted by the Thor actor is set in the Dubai Expo grounds, Burj Khalifa skyline and Jumeirah Beach Park. The Emirate's attractions are recreated with liberal use of CGI animation and set to the soundtrack of the 1971 musical, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic and the downturn of international travel, Hemsworth has been the face of Australian domestic tourism campaigns including Tourism Australia's "Holiday at Home". So it is a volte-face for the God of Thunder to suddenly appear in adverts for overseas travel. Particularly, while there is a ban on Australian citizens flying internationally without prior exemption.
"In 2019, I partnered with Emirates and Expo 2020 Dubai to help bring awareness to what is a really important event for the world," Hemsworth said in an Emirates press release.
"At Expo 2020 Dubai, the world will come together in the spirit of collaboration to provide real-life solutions that will benefit future generations. If you're able to travel and you feel it's safe, I sincerely hope you can make it."
Last month the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Aussie actor had declined an offer to promote a national ad campaign for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Dubai Expo 2020
The Dubai Expo will open its doors to visitors on October 1 after a year-long delay.
The world village has expositions from 191 participating countries, including New Zealand.
New Zealand's pavilion team says it is delighted the event will be taking place after the initial delay. "The mega-event will run over six months and is an opportunity to promote New Zealand to an international audience, while celebrating our values, innovation and creativity under the theme Kaitiakitanga/Care for People and Place."
Part of this half-year residency will feature international projects, such as the "Te Aratini" Indigenous & Tribal Peoples summit led by the New Zealand Pavilion.
"Relationships are the cornerstone of Aotearoa New Zealand's international connections," Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said.
These relationships would help New Zealand and its international partners "build back better, fairer, more inclusively and more indigenously", she said.
Beyond a temporary village for geopolitics and diplomacy, Dubai hopes the World Fair will become an attraction for travellers passing through the hub.
While restrictions remain on who can fly into and out of the United Arab Emirates, Reuters reported Dubai hopes 25 million visitors will pass through the Expo between October and March 2022.
Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE's Minister of State, called the delayed Expo "one of the greatest must-see events in the world".
There will be a rolling programme of international exhibitions and performances from around the world, with a special line-up featuring Six60.
"In addition to impressive marquee pavilions that immerse visitors in the themes of mobility, sustainability and opportunity, and 191 amazing country pavilions, there will also be an unforgettable celebration of music, art and culture," she said.
As the official airline partner for the event, Emirates says passengers will be given complimentary access to the world village.
Travellers with a valid Emirates booking passing through Dubai from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 will be eligible to receive a free day pass.