Destination Recovery Done Three Ways — Starting Local to Bring Back Travel

By Cara Frank, Simpleview

As destinations venture into the first phases of reopening, some destination organizations are taking a unique approach: marketing almost exclusively to locals. 

The strategy not only cuts down the risk of potential further spreading the virus beyond state lines but also helps kickstart the economy and puts a renewed focus on the needs of the local community. After all, if there’s one lasting effect from the events of the past few months, it’s a shift in how residents interact with destination organizations and tourism in their community. 

Marsha Walden, President & CEO of Destination British Columbia, said it best in a recent interview: “If we think that the people of Venice having now reclaimed their city, and seen it again as it was 150 years ago, are going to embrace the old way of tourism, I think we're sorely mistaken. This gives them a chance to reimagine what their new world will look like.”

And while destinations will have to continue to navigate that shift in the coming months and years, the best thing they can do now to bring back travel is to start local. Here are three examples of destinations from around the world leaning into their local communities. 

Tourism Vancouver recently launched their #VancouverComeBack campaign, designed to encourage residents to support the local economy by patronizing Vancouver’s restaurants and attractions. While the campaign initially focuses on local residents, over time it will expand to include the rest of British Columbia, as well as the remaining Canadian provinces. They aim to maximize tourism by providing special deals and discounts for hotels and attractions. 

Tourism Montréal is yet another Canadian destination inviting residents to get out and explore their own city. Emmanuelle Legault, VP of Marketing & Strategy, recently stopped by The Future of Tourism podcast to discuss the destination’s new approach. “We joined forces with the city of Montreal, all the different neighborhoods, to really try and relaunch the commercial Montreal. Because it's one thing to try and tell everyone to stay in Montreal... It's another one to keep our industry alive,” said Emmanuelle. “What we're now trying to do is tell Montrealers: ‘Hey, become a visitor in your own city.’” In support of this effort, the Montréal team updates the homepage of their website each week to showcase a different local event or activity. 

The team at Bermuda Tourism has certainly faced their own unique challenges, in that their destination is not as easily accessible as others; the island was actually closed to visitors for several months, and only reopened to commercial flights last month. During that time, the Tourism Authority focused on what they called an “Inside-Out” approach, starting from within their own community and working their way out towards international visitors. On the “Inside,” they encouraged residents to take part in initiatives to support their local stakeholders, such as The Great Takeout Day. 

There’s no doubt that destination organizations will have to remain flexible throughout the recovery process, but one thing is for certain: while the future of tourism remains uncharted territory, the present is all about embracing local. 

For more stories about destination recovery initiatives, visit the Simpleview Blog or check out the Future of Tourism podcast.  

About the Author

Cara Frank headshot
Cara Frank
Chief of Staff
Not surprising for a two-time Ironman finisher, the idea of 'take it easy' never held much appeal for Cara. By 25, she'd worked her way up from convention services manager to Director of Convention Services & Sports Sales at the Greater Madison CVB — experience and perspective she transferred to Simpleview in 2008. Now VP of Marketing, Cara loves that she has not just a DMO point of view, but also perspective from every department within our company through working with them on their sales and marketing goals. Along with the opportunity to help grow and shape the Simpleview brand, that interaction with people from across the organization is one of the high points of her job.