Mexican Government Uses Facebook to Combat Tourism Declines

The Mexican Council for the Promotion of Tourism (CPTM per Spanish initials), just wrapped up a combination game-giveaway for Facebook users meant to promote the country’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry.

The “Gracias A Ti Vive Mexico” web site used Facebook Connect to award a total of 10 vacation packages from December 21 through 31 to players of the Council’s game — who had to be Facebook users.

To play and compete in the contest, users had to have a Facebook page and live in Mexico. As we reported in November, Mexico is one of the Latin American countries experiencing the most Facebook growth, rising by nearly half a million new users to reach 6.67 million at the end of last month. We’re not sure how many people played the game — we tried contacting the Council and haven’t heard back. But, the game’s Facebook page now has more than 1,300 fans and the gamehelped promote the game, pointing to other social media sites such as Flickr, YouTube and Twitter.

Winners of the contest were selected based on their rankings in the game, which consisted of a person searching an airport for five objects — a plane ticket, a suitcase, a beach towel, a polo shirt and a baseball cap — using the least amount of points in the shortest time possible.

For each day of the contest the Council awarded to top scorer a vacation package for two to Cancún, Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco (Oaxaca) that mirrored the game: plane tickets and accommodations for two, one suitcase, two beach towels, two hats and two polo shirts. The next nine ranked players won the same kit, sans the plane tickets.

The Council gave away a total of 10 trips and 100 travel kits during the ten-day contest.

We’ve previously discussed ways in which governments can use Facebook to better serve their constituents, but the Council’s giveaway takes that assistance to a whole new level — the national economy.

Given Mexico’s surging narcoviolence in traditional tourist destinations, such as Cancún, it’s no surprise that the government there is stepping up to counteract the bad rap. While promoting Cancún to stave off some of the losses in tourism there, the government is also promoting Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco (Oaxaca), where violence has not been as much of an issue.

Tourism is one of the main components of Mexico’s economy and is supported not just by foreigners, but also by Mexicans themselves. But the narcoviolence, coupled with the H1N1 flu outbreak and global recession, saw an 82% drop in Mexican tourism during the first two weeks of the flu outbreak.

With this game-giveaway, the Council is not only launching a public relations campaign for its tourism industry, but trying to prop-up the country’s economy, which is supported primarily by tourism, oil and remittances from Mexican nationals abroad.