San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nature app replicates Costa Rica sounds

The Costa Rican Tourism Board’s (ICT) talking-sloth tourism campaign, as many people will remember it, came to an end Feb. 5, and the ICT is celebrating the campaign’s success with the launch of an iPad application that mixes sounds from Costa Rican nature to create musical tunes. 

“EnviroMixer” is the final segment of Costa Rica’s “Million Dollar Gift of Happiness.” The ICT promotion awarded more than 100 prizes to winners in the United States and Canada (TT, Feb. 3). Winners received all-expense-paid trips to visit the country that has been dubbed “the happiest country in the world.” 

As one last gift of happiness, ICT launched the EnviroMixer app, which can be downloaded for free at the Apple iTunes store. The app was launched last week and will remain available indefinitely. 

EnviroMixer was created by advertisement agency 22squared, the same company that gave life to the charming talking sloth featured in the popular campaign. EnviroMixer allows users to create music by dragging animal sounds to a screen, where they can be personalized by changing duration and volume. The result is a mix of sounds that users can share through social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. 

EnviroMixer has nine animal sounds, including toucans, humpback whales and howler monkeys. The sounds can be mixed with melodies from the sea, from waterfalls and from an erupting volcano. 

“Our target market for the Gift of Happiness campaign is both the U.S. and Canada, [where] mobile technologies like iPads and smartphones [are popular],” ICT Marketing Director Ireth Rodríguez said. “This app is a way of closely relating with our target market, because they are more aware of the aspects that make Costa Rica different.” 

According to ICT, Costa Rica’s “Million Dollar Gift of Happiness” brought the country more fame in U.S. and Canadian markets. After the promotion was launched, ICT’s Facebook page went from having 8,000 “likes” to nearly 134,000. 

Also, before the campaign, 54 percent of ICT’s Facebook “likes” came from a Costa Rican audience, 32 percent from the U.S., 7 percent from Canada, and 7 percent from other countries. After the campaign, the ICT reversed the trend, and now 85 percent of “likes” come from the U.S., while only 5 percent are Costa Rican. 

“The goal of this campaign is to get people talking about Costa Rica. When we first started the campaign, we were getting an average of 200 Facebook posts a day, and now we are up to 700 and counting,” Rodríguez said. 

The campaign also allowed Costa Rican tourism to be well placed in several media in the U.S. According to an ICT press release, more than 1,000 websites featured Costa Rica’s “Million Dollar Gift of Happiness,” and the campaign was mentioned by TripAdvisor, the Travel Channel, the Weather Channel and NBC, among others.

This week, the tourism board also published tourism results for the year 2011. According to figures provided by the Immigration Administration, Costa Rica registered an increase of 4.6 percent in the tourism sector. The country welcomed 96,131 more tourists in 2011 than the previous year. 

According to Tourism Minister Allan Flores, the numbers are a representation of the public and private sectors’ hard work to attract more visitors every year and to place Costa Rica as an innovative destination and pioneer in sustainable tourism. 

 According to Rodríguez, it is hard to calculate the number of new visitors drawn by the campaign, and therefore target a higher tourism increase for 2012.

However, Rodríguez said the application and ad campaign will continue to work as tools to get people talking positively about Costa Rica.

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