Costa Rica’s Million Dollar Gift of Happiness aimed at sharing Costa Rican experience with North American travelers via $1 million worth of trips

The Costa Rica Tourism Board has launched its new advertising campaign in the United States and Canada, set to inspire visitors to explore the wide variety of offerings that have long made Costa Rica one of the most popular travel, study abroad and second home destinations for Americans and Canadians.

Spanning from October 6, 2011 to February 5, 2012, the campaign, titled Costa Ricas Million Dollar Gift of Happiness, seeks to spread happiness by gifting US $1 million dollars worth of week-long Costa Rican vacations to people in the United States and Canada. North Americans can enter to win one of the highly-coveted trips via Visit Costa Rica’s Facebook page, which will serve as the hub of the campaign. Twitter, influential blogs and popular news outlets are also being used as sources to find travelers who share Costa Rica’s values, and who, of course, would benefit from a gift of happiness.

Recipients of the week-long Costa Rican vacations have the option of selecting a trip from a group of exciting themed travel packages, including Romantic Happiness (romance), Adventure Happiness (soft adventure), Wildlife Happiness (nature), Adrenaline Happiness (extreme adventure) and Authentic Happiness (culture). On the country’s official Facebook page, fans of Costa Rica will be able to preview five videos corresponding to each trip experience. Thanks to a strong social media component, the campaign will encourage North American travelers to explore the country’s natural beauty, thrill-seeking adventures and sustainable tourism practices, while also sharing these experiences with friends and family.

The campaign was inspired by Costa Rica’s recognition as one of the happiest places in the world by the New Economic Foundation’s Happy Planet Index, which rates satisfaction based on a country’s quality of life, life expectancy and carbon footprint.  The Gallup World Index’s The World’s Happiest Countries also named Costa Rica one of its happiest places in the world, ranking it as the happiest place in the Americas.

This is the first time in 16 years that the Costa Rica Tourism Board has launched an institutional advertising campaign in the United States and Canada, according to Costa Rica Tourism Minister Allan Flores. The Costa Rica Tourism Board hopes that this campaign will contribute to its goal of increasing visitor numbers by five percent annually, while sharing with its North American friends how Costa Rica’s offerings, including the country’s commitment to sustainability, have paved the way for its recognition as one of the happiest places in the world.

“Costa Rica has long embraced American and Canadian visitors with open arms,” Flores explained. “Sharing our country with others is one of the things that make Costa Ricans most happy, and this campaign will demonstrate that we really mean it when we say it.”

Created by Atlanta-based independent advertising agency 22squared, the timing of this campaign is ideal, as Costa Rica forecasts strong tourism numbers for the upcoming high season, kicking off in November. This year, the country has already broken records with nearly 1.2 million tourists visiting Costa Rica during the first six months of 2011. This corresponds to a 6.5 percent increase, compared to the first half of the last four years and the forecasted growth of the World Tourism Organization, which is between 4 and 5 percent.

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