social networking site Facebook.
Graduates from the Goa Institute of Management (GIM), one of the state's top business school, have developed a 'Bid & Win' Facebook contest aimed at making Brand Goa popular on social networking forums, besides giving users an opportunity to win free trips to the state, synonymous with beach tourism and nightlife.
"Social media is the future voice of Goa tourism and it's about time that we built an online community that is synonymous with Goan warmth and hospitality," Shawn Menezes, one of the students who developed it, told IANS.
The weekly Bid & Win contest and the Goa Tourism Department page has been developed by Shawn Menezes, Swapnil Chodankar, Floyd Tavares and Neha Arora - members of GIM's marketing club - as a "give back to our state by contributing and assisting in launching the social media campaign".
"Social networking was the way because more people are logged on to the internet today than ever before," said Shawn.
"They are more dependent on the internet to gather information and their networks to help sift through this information to make decisions especially in the travel industry."
In the 'Bid & Win' contest, Facebookers need to enter a unique low bid, to win the prize for the week.
The bids start from Rs.0.1 and a maximum of one bid is allowed per user.
The prizes are a holiday in one of the most sought after tourism destinations in the country like the tourism department's resorts or private resort, the Wildernest Eco-Resort, which have signed up for the scheme.
Tourism director Nikhil Dessai is extremely optimistic about the new marketing spearhead and has aimed at a million "likes" on the Facebook page by the end of the year.
"It's the way ahead as far as marketing is concerned," Dessai said.
Co-developer Neha Arora said that the project will provide Goa toursim with a new-age marketing medium.
"The Bid & Win initiative has not been run by any brand on social media and is a novel concept amongst Facebook contests. It is probably the first travel and tourism brand in the world to run such a contest," she said.
The project, she said, allowed students to put into practice what they are taught at the management institute.
"We are able to get our hands dirty with an actual social media activation when otherwise we would not be accorded such an opportunity in our classrooms," she said.
One of the most popular beach tourism destinations of Asia, Goa annually attracts over 2.6 million tourists, of whom half a million are foreigners.