News & Views

Go Big Or Go Home – Travel Destinations Bet on New Cultural Marketing Efforts

There’s nothing new about destination organizations launching new travel marketing campaigns, but this year it seems like destinations are blowing things up and just starting over. The beneficiary this year? Those consumers who are motivated to travel to experience cultural offerings! Here are some examples of how destinations are thinking big – and tips on how you can, too.


Mexico Bets On Funding New Tourism Train To Provide Access to Historic Sites

The centerpiece of Mexico’s six-year tourism strategy, the Maya Train will provide connectivity from popular tourism destinations to the nation’s top archaeological sites. According to the Mexico News Daily, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the project, an investment of around U.S. $6.3 billion, will require the participation of the public sector, the private sector and the social sector.


Prague Appoints “Night Mayor” To Revamp Nightlife Image

Europe’s fifth-most-visited city, Prague is the driver of the Czech Republic’s U.S. $11 billion tourism industry. It’s also a city known for a raucous, verging-on-seedy, nightlife, particularly in the historic downtown. The city has named Jan Stern its first ever “night mayor” and directed him to revamp a nightlife image based on the country’s prolific beer consumption and lax drug laws to one that might appeal to tourists looking for more cultural attractions. It’s not just the tourists who stand to benefit – locals have complained about the conditions for years.


Japan Launches YouTube “How To” Series for Communal Bathing

The Japanese tradition of bathing in onsens, or natural hot springs, dates back to the sixth century. To encourage Westerners not used to communal bathing, Hoshino Resorts released a YouTube video about onsen etiquette. Detailed in Fortune magazine, the video features a cartoon rabbit and frog undressing — “Don’t be shy!” commands the English-speaking narrator. The video is part of a larger effort to make this island nation more approachable to foreign guests ahead of Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympics. Other campaigns promote “glamping” in the foothills of Mt. Fuji and wine tasting in the Yamanashi wine country.


Puerto Rico Staves Off Overtourism by Demonstrating Culture Beyond The Beach…

Puerto Rico is shifting its marketing strategy from an emphasis on beaches to a broader focus on the destination’s cultural offerings. Less than two years after Hurricane Maria in 2017, the island is experiencing a resurgence, according to Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, in an interview published in Travel Weekly. The new focus will showcase Puerto Rico’s culture, art, music, dance and food, and is expected to help stave off overtourism. Dean suggested that despite the devastation of the storm, the hurricane may turn out to have been a blessing in disguise, as it forced the destination to totally rethink its marketing focus.


Finland Promotes Its Happy People

According to a UN study, Finland is the world’s happiest country due in part to its unique connection to nature. What better way to help tourists become as happy as a Finn than to pair them with a real, live (and presumably happy) Finn? Rent-a-Finn pairs travelers with Finnish happiness guides to help them learn about true happiness by getting immersed in Finnish traditions and culture.


New Jersey Creates Food Trail to Commemorate Pop Culture Icon, Anthony Bourdain

A new food trail has been created in honor of the famed chef, who died last year. The Anthony Bourdain Food Trail in New Jersey features 10 of the restaurants the peripatetic foodie visited for a 2015 episode of his CNN show “Parts Unknown.” Visitors will be able to taste the foods Bourdain loved, such as the poppy seed buns at Donkey’s Place in Camden, stuffed lobster at Dock’s Oyster House in Atlantic City, or deep-fried hot dogs at Hiram’s in Fort Lee.


Takeaways for governments and destinations

  • Have a come-to-Jesus meeting with yourself. You can’t get new results by doing things the same way again and again.
  • Tap into local culture – the people, places and things… Never stop thinking, creating, evolving.
  • Go big or go home. Do you want to be forgotten or to make an impact on the world? As the video on Japanese onsen etiquette says, “Don’t be shy!”
Written By

Karyl Leigh Barnes

Karyl Leigh Barnes is President 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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