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Online Marketing Ventures Launch

The Minister of Tourism has branded average 33 per cent occupancy levels among Family Island hotels as 
“unacceptable” at the launch of an online marketing business.

Obie Wilchcombe gave his support for the promotion of domestic tourism, and the use of online strategies for destination marketing, at the launch of the Domestic Tourist and My Destination Bahamas last Thursday.

Entrepreneur Noelle Nicolls launched the two online businesses, with plans to use the targeted online marketing platforms to benefit Bahamian businesses by creating original content and sharing authentic stories that can engage online consumers.

“We are going to join with Noelle. She is going to be a partner with the Ministry of Tourism,” said Mr Wilchcombe. “We are going to work with her and we are going to partner with her, because as we see, the numbers in our occupancy levels in the Family Islands are around 33 per cent.

“That is not acceptable in a tourism industry. We have to get our numbers to a higher percentage. With Noelle we are going to do that.”

The Domestic Tourist is a travel lifestyle company focused on promoting travel to the Family Islands. In addition to its main publishing platform, an island-hopping travel blog (www.domestictourist.com), it offers editorial services and native advertising services to tourism businesses and industry partners. It plans to introduce curated tours and travel merchandise.

“We hope to form strategic partnerships with allies like the Ministry of Tourism and the Promotion Boards to bring new life to the destination brand online” said Ms Nicolls.

“The static web has been dead for a long time. Consumers want real life, real time stories that are authentic and appeal to their interests. Companies like ours can provide valuable dynamic content to the Ministry of Tourism and other industry partners to stimulate engagement online around these new consumer values.”

Vernice Walkine, the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s vice-president, for allied members, said: “Communication is no longer static. Instead, it is interactive and open for the world to see. Travel and Leisure magazine describes it as the amplified word of mouth effect. Bloggers are the new next door neighbours, co-workers or best friends sharing vacation photos and travel tips with the world.”

My Destination Bahamas (www.mydestination.com/bahamas) is an online travel guide, with a directory of hotels, restaurants, things to do in the destination as well as travel articles, video profiles, virtual tours, galleries and other interactive features.

The website is connected to a global franchise with over 100 destinations around the world, 60,000 business clients and 19 million annual visitors.

“Launching two online businesses at the same time is ambitious, but in the world of business, if you slunk you get skunked. My Destination Bahamas is travel guide designed around local expertise. It fits naturally into the Domestic Tourist brand, which is a treasure chest of local knowledge. The two brands allow me to give businesses targeted exposure to a domestic and global audience,” said Ms Nicolls.

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