About £6,000 of council taxpayer’s money has been shelled out to promote tourism in Dacorum via adverts on the back of double-decker buses in London.
The new signs – which cost around £100 per travel route – began to appear at the start of this month.
They say: “Delve a bit deeper: discover what there is to enjoy on your doorstep – Dacorum.”
Cash has been shelled out for them to cover around 58 routes in an attempt to draw Londoners into the borough.
But John Waller, who is a tour guide at Berkhamsted Castle, said: “It would be better spent on public toilets or car parking.”
The news came to light when one of the adverts was spotted in Regent Street, London, and a photo of it was posted on Facebook.
The picture featured a little child crawling at a cave at Hemel Hempstead’s The XC – which has a skate park, climbing wall and caving facilities.
But an early responder joked that without any explanation, people could be forgiven for thinking that another sinkhole had appeared in the town – and the child was in it.
Others questioned whether such adverts would really be enough to entice people to Dacorum from one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Dacorum Borough Councillor Ron Tindall, from the opposition Lib Dems, said: “I think the whole campaign was devised to encourage people to visit the towns of Dacorum.
“But unfortunately, the bus adverts seem to have gone into fantasy land instead of common sense because the PR company was more artistic, I think.
“There’s no mention of Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted or Tring on any of the adverts, so the average person in London wouldn’t know what they’re talking about.”
The adverts do mention Dacorum – but many people who live near to the area in places like St Albans and Luton do not even know it exists.
Mr Tindall said the money could have been better spent in the borough itself.
James Doe is the assistant director for planning, development and regeneration at Dacorum Borough Council, which paid for the adverts.
He said the coverage had been selected quite carefully to give people the chance to visit the area who live within a reasonable drive time.
He said the signs were on buses based in the Watford and Edgware depots and would be put on Hemel Hempstead-based buses from next week.
He said that London has a population of more than 10m, and the council wanted to reach out to them to attract new visitors to Dacorum.
Hemel Hempstead can be reached on the train from London Euston in 30 minutes, he added.
He said: “I think Dacorum is one of the nation’s best kept secrets.
“When people come and see what we have got to offer, we hope that people will want to come and stay and enjoy the facilities that are here.”