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Destination Marketing Organizations: Make Plans Now To Celebrate World Tourism Day

This September we’ll all celebrate World Tourism Day. It’s nothing new, reaching all the way back to its inception in 1980. This year, however, it seems more important than ever to celebrate. It’s the first time in a generation that destinations worldwide actually felt truly and fully connected in a fight against the pandemic.

Destinations both large and small, remote and central, new and long-standing are all part of the global travel community. While we all traditionally work in our own bubbles, we know now that together we’re stronger — or at least less vulnerable — to the challenges that face the globe. And those challenges won’t end after COVID passes, let’s be clear.

So instead of simply posting something simple on social media, destination marketing organizations should really be celebrating and reflecting on the more global impact of travel. It’s time to do something real.

This year, before September 27 gets here, experiment with more engaging ways to embrace this year’s theme, “tourism for inclusive growth.” Consider a few, or all, of these tactics to reach and let the world know that your destination is aware of the challenges ahead while celebrating the progress you’ve made.

1. Speak Up

Most communities know very little about those who lead their destination marketing organizations. Use WTD as a chance to reach out to everyone and share some sort of message to introduce yourself and let them know what you’re doing for them. It will reassure residents to know that someone is out there working for them in ways they may have never considered before.

Let them feel included in what you do. We’re celebrating inclusive growth, after all.

Publish an op-ed on LinkedIn or in a local publication and address your local communities directly, not just your tourism partners. Highlight how your destination marketing organization is working for local residents and how you have their best interests in mind. Inclusivity starts in our backyards, and this is your chance to take that first step.

2. Promote Partners

While inclusivity can mean so many things, one way to embrace it is by highlighting local tourism industry partners who are doing things right. Look around to find companies and individuals who are committed to inclusivity or the global community in innovative ways. Share their stories. Give them a platform. Share it with the media. Make sure there is a dedicated space on your destination website that features them.

You could even just send out a survey to find out what’s new and use that to create a media pitch. It’s a little bit of work but one that will pay off with big dividends if done right.

When we celebrate World Tourism Day, it isn’t just about patting ourselves on the back, it’s about showing how others are leading the way. Some of the best examples are right under our noses if we take a moment to look. Share those examples with your audiences and it will only add value to your destination’s brand.

3. Celebrate Sisters

Let’s take this global idea literally and do something we rarely remember to do. Celebrate your sister cities. So many partnerships between global towns and cities have been established over the years, so let’s call upon them this year. Find that little European destination that considers you a twin town and reach out to connect.

What do Philadelphia, Florence, and Tel Aviv have in common? This is a chance for these siblings to check in and find out exactly that!

Check in with them, host a panel, highlight a shared initiative, or start a new program to share ideas for enacting positive change. A lot has changed since the pandemic started, and this is an opportunity to see how they dealt with their own unique challenges.

It’s the moment to rekindle those relationships and stretch our networks again, reaching beyond our local communities to seek inspiration to bring home and apply to our residents.

And it could all just be a Zoom call away.

4. Spearhead Action

When we celebrate World Tourism Day it should be a chance to launch some long-awaited or overdue initiative. Using it as a springboard is a solid way to gain some community support while doing so. It’s like Earth Day for the travel industry, so there’s no better time to take action.

Commit to a new sustainable endeavor to include your whole community and not just travelers or tourism partners. Industry embracing inclusivity at a local endeavor is a challenge for destination marketing organizations, who traditionally have not always thought in such a way. But trends and times are changing and the new fashion is to do just that.

Bring a tourism training program to a local high school. Organize a series of talks for students at the community college. Sponsor a tourism job fair for locals. The options for taking action are endless.

5. Create Campaigns

Create video campaigns to highlight change-makers across your local community to create ties to the destination. Or use some sort of content to invite locals to interact more with your tourism partners. We can’t tell you how to do it, just that WTD is the day to do it.

Anything creative and engaging will do the job, so look to local content creators or to that tourism marketing intern with a snazzy TikTok account to help develop something eye-catching. Interviews with local change-makers, for example, are a great way to showcase your destination’s efforts towards inclusivity while giving them a platform (see #2 above!).

World Tourism Day is just the news hook that you can use to share your destination’s stories. What stories you choose to tell and how you tell them is up to you. Just be sure to do it and don’t let September 27 pass you by this year. We’re still building back, and if we hope to do it better, we need to take every opportunity we can.

Looking to do something interesting to celebrate World Tourism Day but your creative engines are stalled? DCI has more than 60 years guiding destinations towards innovative solutions to whatever challenge they are facing, and WTD is no different. Reach out to Karyl Leigh Barnes at [email protected] to learn how we can help you get started on something fresh this year.

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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