Organisers of an international tourism conference will use a Facebook competition to determine which of seven Australian cities - including Wollongong - wins the right to host the event.
The inaugural Asia-Pacific Social Media Tourism Symposium (So-Me-T for short) will be held on July 17 and 18 somewhere in Australia and is expected to attract up to 250 delegates from around the world.
However, in an unconventional move by the organisers, the final destination for the event will be decided by which city receives the strongest support from its online community.
Wollongong will go head to head with Melbourne, Townsville, Cairns, Alice Springs, Brisbane and Western Australia's Margaret River region in a series of Facebook "vote-offs", beginning today, to determine the host city.
Under the competition process, the four cities with the most votes by this Friday will advance to a second round of voting, and the top two destinations to the final, third round. The setup allows Facebook members to vote once each day for their favourite city.
Destination Wollongong chief Mark Sleigh has applauded the ingenious nature of the competition and called on residents to get behind the city's bid.
"We want local businesses and the community to show their support for Wollongong by voting every day in this competition."
"Tell your friends, your family, your work colleagues - tell everyone to log on to Facebook and vote for Wollongong," he said.
Mr Sleigh said there would be multiple benefits for Wollongong, which will showcase the latest ideas and innovations in digital destination marketing.
"This is about more than winning a Facebook competition; it's an opportunity to show Australia and the world that Wollongong is a top destination and deserves to be positioned alongside Australia's [tourism] heavyweights such as Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef [Cairns].
"The positive impact that this conference will have on local business is one aspect, but the exposure for the region on a world scale is another - it's almost limitless.
"The people coming to this event are social media experts who will use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their time in the host city with thousands and thousands of followers all over the world.
"It's the best form of advertising at very little expense for the city."
Avid Facebook user Jess Wilkinson, 24, yesterday said she hoped residents got behind Wollongong's bid for the event.
"It would be great for Wollongong to host something like this".
To vote in the competition, visit the Social Media Tourism Symposium Facebook page and follow the link to Wollongong.