The head of Lithuania's state tourism department has quit after admitting she promoted the Baltic nation with landscape photos taken elsewhere in Europe. Ironically, the tourism ads were named "Real Is Beautiful."
Lithuania's State Department of Tourism admitted on Friday that some of the pictures used on social media were taken in fellow EU states Finland and Slovakia.
The campaign, called "Real Is Beautiful," was started last October and flooded Facebook and Twitter feeds, which were used to promote Lithuania to tourists.
The 140,000-euro ($149,000) project eventually sparked hundreds of ironic entries on social media as Lithuanians posted international photos and pretended they were from Lithuania.
The tourism department and media agencies that created the advertising campaign defended themselves by insisting the pictures from other countries were good enough to "communicate emotion."
Within hours of the revelations being published, tourism chief Jurgita Kazlauskiene was summoned to the economy minister's office, where she handed in her resignation, a ministry spokesman told the Agence France-Presse.
Kazlauskiene said it was important that "people who work here don't become objects of ongoing attacks."
Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis hit out at the campaign as "fraudulent" hours after he cheekily posted a fake photo of an EU building on his social media accounts, claiming it showed new government offices.
Lithuania, a eurozone member with a population of 3 million, boasts miles of sandy beaches on its Baltic Sea coast and swaths of forest, with woodland covering about a third of its territory.
mm/gsw (AFP, AP)