Thirty Bloggers from 29 Countries Go on a Road Trip Exploring Kerala

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Kochi:  Thirty influential online travel writers from around the world began a 15-day-long exploration of ‘God’s Own Country’ the other day, with Kadakampally Surendran, Kerala Tourism Minister, flagging off the fourth edition of Kerala Blog Express (KBE) from Bolgatty Palace in Ernakulam as part of a campaign to present the State to a wider international audience.

“The Blog Express is an innovation that we have pioneered and we will continue to raise the bar for tourism marketing in the future,” the Minister said speaking on the occasion. Blog Express initiative has definitely augmented the destination pull of Kerala and given an impetus to sustaining the tempo of growth of tourism, a sector which is so crucial to Kerala’s economy, he said.

“I hope as participants you enjoy this trip and share the wonderful stories and culture of our land with international audience,” he added.

The 30 bloggers this year represent 29 countries and all the continents. They were selected through a voting system with over 38,000 votes garnered online. They will traverse hills, beaches, backwaters and experience life in villages and cities, as part of the award-winning promotional campaign of Kerala Tourism.

Besides the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain, travel writers from Europe this year include from regions such as Moldova and Gibraltar. The only Indian in the group is Dipanshu Goyal from New Delhi and the most experienced blogger is Carla Mota from Portugal who has travelled around 82 countries over the years. Most of the bloggers are visiting India for the first time. With participants from around the globe, Blog Express 4 has already grabbed the attention of various social media platforms and online travel and tour forums.

KBE was piloted in 2014 as a social media campaign, familiarisation trip, bloggers’ meet and road trip rolled into one, with the aim of creating a pool of global brand ambassadors who have experienced Kerala at close quarters and have the ability to reach out to aspiring international travellers.

Over the past three editions the KBE has shaped 87 such ambassadors, who have documented their journey, experiences and memories across conventional, digital and social media platforms in several different languages, taking the Kerala Tourism brand to ever wider audiences.

KBE, which promises ‘the trip of a lifetime!’ in its tagline, selects participants through an online voting process. It has received more than 5,300 entries over the last four years and continues to grow in popularity.

The campaign itself has set new benchmarks in destination marketing. The third edition of Kerala Blog Express 3 last year won the Bronze for Social Media (Outreach) at the prestigious ABBY Awards 2016.

It generated more than 9,000 Tweets, over 300,000 website visits, over 2,000 Instagram pictures and more than 100 blog articles. Kerala, as a travel destination, was covered on the Czech National radio, Polish radio, Bulgarian radio and TV show and local newspapers in New Zealand and Italy.

A crew from Envoyéspéciall’été, the entertainment channel of France, flew down to Kerala to document French bloggers Arnaud Caillou and Céline Simon, who were of KBE 3. They spent four days with the whole KBE 3 team and featured a documentary film on their channel, focusing on Kerala and its cultural richness.

Kerala Blog Express 4 will travel through Alappuzha, Kumarakom, Thekkady, Munnar, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod before completing its journey on April 3 in the capital city Thirvananthapuram, where the guests will be given a grand farewell by the State Tourism Department.

P G Shivan, Joint Director, Kerala Tourism and V S Anil, Deputy Director, Kerala Tourism, also attended the function.

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