Martinique focuses on blogs in tourism drive

NEW YORK: The French Government Tourist Office and the Martinique Promotion Bureau kicked off a campaign and travel essay contest to drive winter-wary bloggers to the French Caribbean Island of Martinique.

NEW YORK: The French Government Tourist Office and the Martinique Promotion Bureau kicked off a campaign and travel essay contest to drive winter-wary bloggers to the French Caribbean Island of Martinique.

The campaign is aimed to promote the lesser-known destination to US travelers.

The "Holiday Travel Story Contest" invites people, especially influential travel bloggers, to write about travel experiences for a complete vacation to the island, an overseas region of the Republic of France. It is one component of the "Color Me Martinique" initiative - a push to position the island as a comparable haven to the region's other tourist hot-spots.

"[US] travelers used to go to Martinique, but then other destinations emerged and [they] spread the word to American travelers. We didn't," said Muriel Wiltord, the American director of the Martinique Promotion Bureau. "And it was time to."

Wiltord added that the bureau, with a budget of about $175,000, has also used other means to spread the message of Martinique's charm. Handled by Ft. Lauderdale-based boutique agency SBPRCorp., traditional media outreach has included press releases, press kits, and trips for travel journalists centered on island themes and festivals.

The French government, which in the past three years has taken other initiatives to draw vacationers to the island, decided to use the Internet and blogs with the campaign, realizing the power of word-of-mouth messaging, Wilford said. "Martinique is an island still to be explored and traveled by Americans, and since the bloggers are such a growing force, it seemed like a good idea to go that route."

Through the end of the month, bloggers can log on to the Martinique Web site, us.france-guide.com to post their travel stories, on which other visitors will vote. The story with the highest rating earns its author a one-week trip for two to the island. Additionally, one randomly picked critic will receive the same accommodation.

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