DMOs Shine through Federal Shutdown: Content Gets Creative

October 14, 2013

It’s been two weeks since the federal government shutdown which sent home more than 21,000 employees from the National Park Service who directly interact with millions of American visitors. With direct tourism spending CA infographicresponsible for filtering $2.3 billion per day through the American economy, it’s no surprise that NPR hit the ground early to determine the shut-down’s impact on travelers and the communities they explore. 

Tales from the front line aren’t pretty – an estimated 7 million people have been shut out at 12 of the busiest and biggest U.S. national parks, costing parks and nearby communities about $76 million in lost visitor spending for each day the partial government shutdown drags on. What began as a few ticked-off travelers trying to enter spectacular national parks has grown to the international travel trade actually advising international visitors to choose a holiday destination rather than America.

While USTOA and US Travel work to lobby legislators, America’s travel destinations are getting down and dirty with engaging marketing ideas.  When the going gets tough – destination marketers get creative.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Visit California Creates State Park Infographic

Visit California designed an infographic to kick-off a campaign that highlights California’s state park system— the largest in America— which remains open while the state’s nine national parks are closed. California’s state parks offer visitors redwood fall foliage, more than 280 miles of coastline, 625 miles of lake and river frontage, 3,000 miles of recreational trails and nearly 15,000 campsites. For travelers who had planned, or wish to plan, travel to California’s national parks this fall, state parks nearby offer comparable cultural, natural and historical vacation experiences.

North Carolina Taps Digital Thought leader

North Carolina Tourism, which relies on leaf-peepers who traverse the Blue Ridge Parkway each autumn, pre-empted shut-down news by encouraging travelers to explore the small town gems along the Blue Ridge Parkway. They scored instagrammer extraordinaire, Colby Brown, who is traversing the state to capture key foliage experiences.  Images captured will be distributed both through VisitNC social media accounts as well as Brown’s channels, which reach more than 308,000 on Facebook, 2.4 million on Google+, 33,500 on Instagram, and 5,000 on Twitter. With traditional rest-stops closed, the Blue Ridge Parkway transformed into the yellow brick road to small town charms waiting to be discovered.  Blue Ridge National Heritage Area followed suit by promoting the extensive fall festivals famed throughout the region.

Destination DC Launches “Traveler Helpline”

Destination D.C. jumped into action with its “D.C. Is Open” campaign, deploying a street team of representatives to distribute tourism guides for those navigating D.C. during the government shutdown.  The key message – With 55 museums, 2,000 restaurants, and 28,000 hotel rooms, DC is open! The DMO then launched a free concierge hotline (855-332-7767) to aid travelers in revising their itineraries to include the city’s non-Fed funded experiences. To help spread the word, the DMO also launched a D.C. Is Open contest. Contestants using the hashtag #DCisOpen on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram will be entered to win a return trip to DC. A winner will be selected 24 hours after the government shutdown is resolved.

Utah Ponies-Up to Keep National Parks Open

Sometimes cash is king. Utah is paying National Park Service up to $166,572 per day to re-open eight national parks for up to 10 days, since October is historically a highly profitable month for Utah’s national parks. Officials estimated a $100 million yield for the month as traveler explore Utah’s most popular parks, including Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Zion National Park, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Written by Karyl Leigh Barnes

Karyl Leigh Barnes is managing partner of DCI’s Tourism Practice. Since joining the firm in 1998, Karyl Leigh has led destination strategy and created marketing communication programs for destinations on every continent except Antarctica.

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1 Comment

  • Genevieve Pritchard says:

    Colorado, South Dakota, Arizona and New York have also re-opened national parks that were closed since the beginning of October

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