Tourism campaign engages audience of new media

By Sonia Mao – Forget mere traditional advertisements and colourful brochures; the Philippines is getting edgier with new media to posture itself as a destination for the adventurous and music lovers.

The “Awesome Philippines” tourism campaign, in partnership with MTV Networks, has harnessed interactive websites and virtual realities in reaching out to its target market of 18- to 35-year-olds, the age group deemed to be the most adventurous and thrill-seeking.

The campaign’s most recent outreach tool is the creation of a simulated microcosm of the Philippines that Department of Tourism (DoT) Secretary, Mr “Ace” Joseph Durano has monikered the country’s “7,108th” island in the online virtual reality Second Life (SL).

SL is a 3D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using voice and text chat.

Philippine’s “7,108th” island is the ingenious MTV Relevations Island on SL that allows players to explore some of Philippine’s main attractions including Chocolate Hills, Mount Mayon and Boracay Hills.

Actual scenery is simulated in the virtual reality, available for viewing alongside photographs and quick facts on a sign board, as well as a link to the Awesome Philippines website.

The SL MTV Revelations Island was opened to public on May 8.

Apart from this, MTV has also released video vignettes showcasing VJs having the time of their life in various parts of the Philippines. Potential travelers can also take part in a Video Remixing contest where they are required to cut and paste their favourite parts of the vignettes with appropriate music to create their own dream holiday. 11 participants with the highest ratings could have that holiday realised. The contest runs on the campaign’s official website, from February 27 to May 24.

Further plans to inculcate underground activities such as concerts as part of the campaign are also coming up.

So far, the tourism campaign that was launched in February has been wildly successful in reaching out to its target market. According to Mr Durano, traffic on the Awesome Philippines and MTV website is on track to hitting “1 million unique visitors by the end of May”.

In justifying the unconventional angle adopted by Awesome Philippines, Mr Durano said that “digital tools are a lot more effective than others to communicate” to the target market.

“MTV also has the widest reach globally, and the greatest ability to localise conent.”

The campaign is currently running in 11 markets, specifically Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the UK and the US. This is the first time a country has partnered with MTV Networks for tourism promotions.

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