Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tourism boards encourage local bloggers

I've long been intrigued by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation's extensive "insiders' tips" site, uwishunu.com (pronounced "You wish you knew"). It features a wide range of blog posts by Philadelphians, on everything from swishy restaurants to tattoo festivals. And the city promotes the site in all the usual Web 2.0 ways, from Twitter to Digg.

The state of Pennsylvania has taken a similar tack. But instead of blog posts, its website features videos of locals waxing enthusiastic about their favourite Keystone State spots.

Now it seems Tourisme Montreal is taking a leap into the world of tourism promotion via blogging and social media. It recently announced that it would be hiring five bloggers for 10-month, part-time stints later this year.

As Gazette reporter Roberto Rocha points out in his article about the initiative, there's always a risk that paid bloggers will be little more than cheerleaders for their chosen city. And it's true that you won't find many colourful diatribes on uwishunu and similar sites. But for the sake of fun and credibility, I hope all of these sites start giving their bloggers the freedom to rant a little, as well as rave. (Yes, yes, I know there are always worries about liability, as well as internal tourism board politics, but there must be some way around those...)

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