The Tourism Authority of Thailand is inviting applications from fun-loving and adventurous couples worldwide to participate in a social-networking competition that will see the top prize-winner get a cash reward of US$10,000, a holiday package to Thailand worth US$3,000, a Blackberry and a Handycam video camera.
The winning couple will be selected by a process of online voting, and the voters themselves will be eligible to win a holiday package valued at US$1,500, a Blackberry, a Handycam video camera and a spa voucher.
Known as "The Ultimate Thailand Explorers", the TAT-initiated competition is targetted at digital citizens worldwide and designed to raise Thailand's global online presence, across all blogs, social-networking sites, chat-rooms and websites. It is intended mainly to publicise Thailand's five top tourist destinations: Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui.
Interested contestants have to apply as couples, regardless of their relationship. Five energetic and enthusiastic couples will be chosen, and dispatched on a fully-paid, five-day itinerary to the five Thai destinations, one couple per destination. All their costs will be taken care of by the TAT, including air travel from their home countries.
During their five-night, six-day tour, they will have to narrate their experiences via the social networking sites and blogosphere, focussing on what they enjoy about Thai culture, Thai cuisine and all the various places they visit. Some attempts to speak a little Thai will add to the adventure.
Digital citizens will be pitched to view the couples' online postings, and vote for the one they think is best. The voters will have to register, which will make them eligible for their prize to be given at the end of the contest.
The couple with the most votes will win the grand prize.
To be selected for the five-day trip and competition, couples have to submit one-minute video clip in English, indicating why they should be selected, which of the five Thai destinations they would like to visit and how they plan to narrate their stories. Their entries will be analysed by a panel of TAT judges on the basis of creativity and story-telling ability.
The tour will include a combination of the popular tourist spots as well as off-the-beaten track places. The couples will be provided with "The Ultimate Thailand Explorer" T-shirts, and will have to file daily online reports, including sending e-cards to friends, micro-blogging on Twitter, and communicating across other sites such as Facebook, etc.
They will also have to find ways to get digital citizens to view their postings and vote for them.
Said Mrs Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, TAT, "Changing times requires changes in marketing strategies. We believe we have found the right combination to cost-effectively raise Thailand's profile and image in cyberspace."
She said the campaign will also yield the TAT a wealth of information about consumer trends, digital habits and lifestyle changes across many demographic and geographical segments of the world.
The official launch of mini-site www.ultimatethailandexplorer.com will take place on 1 September and a press conference on 14 September 2009. Applications will have to be submitted until 15 October. The welcome party for the final contestants will take place on December 9, 2009 and the winners will be announced in January 2010.
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