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New destinations 'look to media for help'

Emerging tourist spots in destinations such as eastern Europe and central Asia are planning to utilise the power of the media to boost their exposure and attract more visitors, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Officials from 37 countries met with international and local media representatives in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi as part of the Tourcom conference on strategic communications, organised by the UNWTO and the Georgian government.

Zurab Nogaideli, prime minister of Georgia, opened the conference and spoke of the growing importance of tourism to the country.

"With its rich history, culture and geographical diversity Georgia is quickly becoming an attractive travel destination. We are investing in hotels, restaurants (for our spectacular cuisine), transport and, most importantly, training," he said.

UNWTO secretary-general Francesco Frangialli also addressed the conference, saying: "The relationship between tourism and the media is vital and complex. Tourism is highly dependant on media reporting because the vast majority of travel decisions are made by people who have never seen the destination first-hand for themselves."

A number of information sessions will be held at the event, covering topics from use of the internet and communication technologies to public-private partnerships in tourism.

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