Tourism Marketers Are Trying to Woo Travelers Ahead of Summer

From London to Connecticut, places are ready to welcome back visitors.
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

Tourism marketing is having a moment. Cities, states, and countries are sinking $$ into campaigns that encourage people to give Netflix and Seamless a rest now that weather’s getting warmer + millions are vaccinated.

We wrote about New York City’s $30 million tourism blitz last month, and similar campaigns have popped up since:

  • “Let’s Do London,” a £6 million campaign unveiled by the city’s mayor this week, aims “to draw visitors from across the UK into central London,” per The Guardian.
  • Switzerland Tourism debuted an ad this month starring Robert DeNiro and Swiss tennis star Roger Federer.
  • States like Connecticut and Georgia recently rolled out pushes of their own to help their tourism sectors recover.

These campaigns aim to breathe life back into an industry ravaged by the pandemic; International Monetary Fund research found that tourist arrivals fell globally by more than 65% in the first half of 2020. But even as travel starts to rebound, tourism orgs are rethinking their short-term and long-term marketing strategies as they attempt to lure back visitors.

On the road again

Mary Gendron, head of marketing agency Mower’s travel and tourism arm, told Marketing Brew that many destinations are “working from the inside out” this year. “They’re looking to attract people in their local areas,” she said, explaining that people might feel safer driving to a weekend getaway than booking a cross-country flight.

That’s what Connecticut is doing: “Our proprietary research shows pent-up demand for travel, especially regional travel, among Northeast consumers—and we want to ensure Connecticut is top of mind,” Christine Castonguay, interim director at the Connecticut Office of Tourism, told us.

Tourism orgs are also trying to convince people there’s fun to be had and safety measures to adhere to.

  • Makarand Mody, assistant professor of hospitality marketing at Boston University, said “destinations are going to have to be careful not to suggest abandon when it comes to inviting visitors,” something he said New Zealand’s tourism arm was recently accused of, in response to a perhaps too lighthearted campaign.
  • But, but, but: Mody suggested that tourism campaigns should still “tap into people's underlying wanderlust.”
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Staying grounded

Clayton Reid, CEO of travel and tourism agency MMGY Global, thinks campaigns should also address broader concerns or trends that might be on travelers’ minds as they start browsing Google Flights again.

For instance, he claims people still want to see “travel brands communicating that they’re doing right by the environment,” pointing to a campaign by Colorado’s tourism division that asks visitors to “trash the trash” in its parks.

“Believe it or not, the green movement in travel continues to be important for travelers,” Reid said.

Looking ahead: Tourism marketers have a lot on their plates. And according to Mody, there is “certainly going to be a temptation for destinations to open the floodgates” in the coming months.

But he said factors like climate change and over-tourism should factor into their “medium-to-long-term strategies,” especially in popular places like Barcelona and Hawaii, which were experiencing the downsides of tourism pre-pandemic.

“For some destinations, it may mean trying to attract a higher-value, as opposed to a higher-volume, tourist. For others, it may be a need for more overt environmental protection initiatives,” Mody explained.

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