The U.S. Tour Operators Association has launched a travel sweepstakes through Facebook that is aimed at increasing consumer awareness of and participation in the packaged-travel industry.

Four USTOA members — Pacific Delight Tours, Go Ahead Tours, Collette Vacations and Globus — have provided travel product worth $40,000 for Around The World With USTOA Sweepstakes, which will take place from May 29 through June 25, with one of four prizes awarded each week.

U.S. residents age 21 and over can enter at www.facebook.com/USTourOperatorsAssoc.

“This is a way to engage consumers with USTOA,” said President Terry Dale. “We want to do whatever we can to help educate consumers on who our members are and the kinds of products and services they can provide.”

Dale admitted, “We’re never as an association going to have the type of advertising budget to do an extensive media purchase.”

The criteria for members interested in participating in the Facebook sweepstakes was that they should have an existing social media program and that prizes offer travel to a range of destinations.

Pacific Delight Tours is offering a 13-day China and Yangtze River for two; Go Ahead Tours is offering a 12-day U.S. National Parks itinerary for four; Collette Vacation is offering a 15-day Australia and New Zealand itinerary for two; and Globus is offering a 14-day Spirit of South America itinerary for two. All tours include air travel.

Dale said that USTOA will gauge the success of the promotion by how many people like the USTOA Facebook page from the start of the sweepstakes. Based on that, USTOA will decide whether to do more promotions via social media.

“It’s really kind of taking a look at how far we’re moved the needle in these social media channels,” said Dale. “We've got to start somewhere.”

Dale said that while this campaign is geared toward consumers, USTOA is hoping that agents will pass along information about it to their customers.

Entrants are permitted to submit one entry per week during the four-week sweepstakes period. Each week, all non-winning entries are carried forward to the next week’s prize period.

Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.

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