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Tuscany woos young travelers on the Web

A tourism agency  launched a $21 million campaign aimed at promoting the Italian region of Tuscany to younger travelers.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A tourism agency on Friday launched a $21 million campaign aimed at promoting the Italian region of Tuscany to younger travelers.

The campaign, which features Tuscany's new slogan, "I want to live like this," kicked-off in Berlin in conjunction with the ITB Kongress, a world tourism fair.

Faced with a potential decline in the tourism industry — the United Nations predicts that international travel will fall by as much as 2 percent in 2009 — Tuscany is joining Google and MTV in a set of new advertising endeavors to attract the tech-savvy set.

In addition to standard print ads, a "Social Team" of 10 young promoters will place advertisements on communal Internet sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Flickr.

Prospective travelers will be able to "walk" through the streets of Florence, Italy, using Street View, a map service offered by Google.

Roberto Brenner, a spokesman for Google Italy, said the Internet is invaluable to advertisers such as the Tuscan Tourist Promotion Agency because it is "the first global media."

"Using new media and new communication platforms for this repositioning shows a mature use of them by Tuscany," Brenner said.

Somewhat paradoxically, Tuscany hopes to use the new media to show young people a region unchanged by technology and globalization.

"We want to give them our own example of global diversity, an identity which will not be given up because of globalization," said Paolo Cocchi, Tuscany's minister of tourism and trade.

Cocchi hopes the campaign will send a message that Tuscany is a liberal, tolerant place still steeped in Italian tradition.

"We aren't like Disneyland, but we are like California: Relaxed, good wine, but without discos or Schwarzenegger," Cocchi said, referring to California's movie star-turned governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.