To build a tourism strategy that lasts and that works for all, you have to be realistic in analysing what works and what doesn’t. In the second of this ‘‘Uncovered’’ series of reports, experts at TOPOSOPHY lift the lid on tourism trends in Mexico and make an honest, frank assessment of the top priorities for government and business in the country today.

Domestic and international tourism in Mexico is continuously growing. The tourism industry growth continues to ride higher than the average national GDP growth and investment in the tourism sector is pouring into the country as the main source market, the United States, recovers from the global financial crisis.

Nevertheless image remains the main concern as incidents relating to organised crime continue to affect parts of the country and Mexican citizens have mobilized to demand more security as mid-term elections approach (Summer 2015). As this report will explain, the media often reports a distorted view of the reality of daily life in Mexico. Furthermore, Mexicans’ views of their own country can often be subject to an inferiority complex or over-influenced by current events.

Discover TOPOSOPHY’s take on the current state of Mexican Tourism in this candid report that aims to provide an external view and an independent perspective on how a tourism industry with high potential can deliver for the country in the future.

Study Snapshot: Key Market Travel Spending Trends 2012

Global travel spending is on the rise, building momentum toward pre-recession levels, according to Visa’s 2011 Travel Snapshot.

The recently released report highlights key spend insights from its account holders traveling to and from the United StatesCanadaMexico and Brazil. Travelers from the United States increased tourism spend by 7 percent, those from Canada by 11 percent, and Mexico by 19 percent. Most notably, travelers from Brazil increased international travel spend on their Visa accounts by 32 percent in 2011 – 43 percent of which was in the United States.

Brazil proves to be a formidable contributor to the global tourism economy, increasing outbound spend by 32 percent.

Key Markets Spending Trends

Brazil: While the United States remains the top destination of choice for Visa account holders from Brazil, most European nations recognized double digit increases in travel spend by Brazilian Visa account holders in 2011. Spending by Brazilian Visa account holders increased by 30 percent in France, 44 percent in Italy and 41 percent in the United Kingdom.

United States: Brazil and China proved to be significant corridors for travel to the United States. Visa account holders from Brazil increased spend on travel to the United States by 41 percent, from $1.9 billion in 2010 to $2.7 billion in 2011, edging out the U.K. as the second highest total contributor to U.S. tourism revenue. Account holders from China increased travel spend within the United States by 61 percent, from $741 million in 2010 to $942 million in 2011. Similarly, account holders from the United States increased travel spend in China by 27 percent, from $741 million in 2010 to $941 million in 2011.

Canada: While Visa account holders from the United States ($3.5 billion), France ($351 million) and the United Kingdom ($348 million) remained the top three contributors to Canadian tourism, Visa account holders from China had one of the most significant increases with a 41 percent increase year over year, from $229 million in 2010 to $321 million in 2011.

Mexico: Visa account holders increased spending in Mexico by six percent in 2011. While Russian account holders increased travel spending in Mexico by 73 percent, travelers from South America also showed more interest in Mexico with Argentina (+58 percent), Brazil (+56 percent), Peru (+30 percent) and Colombia (+30 percent) following Russia with the greatest increases in travel spend to Mexico in 2011.

New Marketing Campaigns- Listen, Engage & Inspire!

Mexico Tourism Board has just launched a new marketing initiative as part of a reputation management framework, incorporating user generated content to build trust and change perceptions in its main market. Tourism Toronto has also released a new marketing campaign this month, which manages to promote the city’s holiday season variety of events and attractions through integrated marketing activities beautifully combined with the holiday charity spirit and delivered through effective industry partnerships. And finally, Tourism Vancouver attempts through its latest marketing initiative, to position the destination as a good place to visit utilizing the opportunity of a sports event, to capture a very interested audience through an other innovative use of social media.

Mexico Tourism Board’s ‘The Taxicab Project’

The Mexico Tourism Board has launched a new advertising campaign designed to change perceptions of and drive tourism to Mexico. Simply entitled, “The Taxicab Project”, the campaign features unsuspecting tourists returning from vacation in Mexico giving unscripted and unadulterated testimonials as they are driven home from the airport.

The unscripted and unedited testimonials that form ‘The Taxicab Project’ have been designed to change the way Americans look at Mexico in the hope of driving further tourism growth from the United States.

According to Mexico Tourism Board chief marketing officer, Gerardo Llanes, the North American campaign “features the very people American consumers trust most … American consumers”.

“The people we interviewed were selected at random and provide refreshingly candid accounts of their recent trips to Mexico,” Mr Llanes said. “From the sea to their safety, these videos answer all of the questions Americans want to know.”

The campaign will commence with the distribution of promotional ‘Mexico Taxicab Project’ postcards, that when held up to a smartphone, reveal the initial ads.


Tourism Toronto’s New Holiday Season Campaign

To showcase the city’s holiday season events and happenings, Tourism Toronto has launched a marketing campaign that includes Facebook, partnerships with hotels and retailers, a charitable component and the installation of seven-foot snowmen in the city’s downtown.

Launched under the banner “Torontoland”, the campaign began earlier this month when 20 fibreglass snowmen were introduced to downtown streets. The snowmen serve as a connection to Torontoland’s online elements, including a microsite – – and a Facebook page.


Consumers planning to visit Toronto can book a hotel package on the microsite and “like” Torontoland on Facebook in order to receive a Torontoland wristband by mail. When they go to the city, these visitors can use the wristband to receive 15% discounts at more than 50 attractions, retail outlets and restaurants.

Visitors are also encouraged to share their Toronto experiences with their Facebook friends and upload photos or videos of themselves with the Torontoland snowmen to the campaign’s Facebook page. Tourism Toronto will donate $2 to Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada for each photo and video upload.

In addition to the wristband, the mail package for consumers who engage with Torontoland online also features a map and information about events such as the Scotiabank-presented Cavalcade of Lights and the Santa Claus Parade. Andrew Weir, vice-president of communications for Tourism Toronto, said the objective of the campaign is to promote the city’s holiday season roster of events and attractions.

“December is actually the least busy month for hotels, and yet, when you look at what’s happening in the city, it’s one of the best times to be here,” said Weir. “We had to find a way to communicate this idea of the magic of the holidays in the city. “This also helps turn Toronto residents and visitors into ambassadors that are sharing their stories [online].”


Vancouver Gets Social Media Fans on the Streets

Tourism Vancouver and Vancouver Coast & Mountains Tourism Region have been inspired by one of America’s biggest marketing events in giving away a prize package that includes tickets to Sunday’s Grey Cup game for fans willing to do some legwork.

The contest is running in both Vancouver and Winnipeg. It’s part of a social media campaign called the Grey Cup Chase devised by Vancouver-based Think! Social Media. The concept is a reworking of an idea first used for the Super Bowl in Dallas earlier this year.

Grey Cup Chase

Fans must track down one of two “mystery men” wandering the streets of Winnipeg and Vancouver and give them a secret phrase that can only be found by clicking “like” on Tourism Vancouver’s Facebook page. Clues to their whereabouts are fed through a Twitter account at #GreyCupChase and via selected bloggers until somebody wins.

“An event like the Grey Cup is like a small version of the Olympics,” said Rodney Payne, co-founder and executive director at Think! “You’ve got a lot of passionate fans who are willing to do quite a lot for some tickets. We want to position the destination as a great place to come and travel to afterwards.”

It’s a bit of an experiment, said Candace Gibson, manager of consumer marketing for Tourism Vancouver. “We know that people are following events like the Grey Cup online and through social media more and more all the time, so this is just another way to reach a very interested audience.”

Gibson said the target group is 25-45 with a 60/40 male split. The objective is to create buzz through new Facebook fans, “likes,” adding Twitter followers and garnering a bit of traditional media attention.


Marketing Campaigns Going For The Luxury Market

Luxury travel sectors are distinguished by uniqueness, brand imagery and high price levels—the main guiding principles of the luxury sector—but they are also impacted by the same trends. The main trends characterizing the luxury travel sector are the development of personalised services, a move away from ostentation, the increasing importance of digital media, and progressively more attention to green and responsible social principles. Above all, as with the luxury sector in general, according to a recent study by the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), the demand for luxury travel is expected to grow, especially in relation to emerging economies, e.g., in the BRIC countries.

The perception of luxury is continuously evolving. Now we’re seeing a move away from ostentation toward authenticity in the travel experience, and a call for sustainability and environmental conservation as an integral part of the offerings for affluent travellers.

On the distribution side, the greater use of online tools will have an effect on the sales process and on communications. A shift towards a more self-sufficient approach in travel planning is therefore expected, plus increased influence by social media in the decision-making process. Let’s see how some destinations have addressed these trends in their marketing activities.

Mexico to Use Maya Calendar as a Starter for Tourism

Hollywood depicts the Maya calendar’s end as a cataclysmic event. But top Mexican tourism officials are betting an invitation to see Maya ruins will attract hordes of older, wealthier U.S. visitors.

In Mexico, where drug violence has hobbled the nation’s $70-billion tourism industry, government leaders hope to counter Tinseltown’s doomsday scenario by promoting 2012 as the year of the tourist.

Several of Mexico’s top tourism officials have been making the rounds in their northern neighbor, betting that an invitation to see Maya ruins will attract hordes of older, wealthier U.S. visitors keen on Mexican culture.

Whereas the Hollywood blockbuster “2012” depicts the end of the Maya calendar as the spark of a global calamity, the Mexican campaign will include a countdown to the calendar’s conclusion and urge tourists to visit archaeological sites in the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Tabasco.

The campaign is the latest effort by Mexico to overcome a steady stream of negative publicity over drug-related violence that has killed tens of thousands in that country and made many American tourists hesitant to venture south of the border.

U.S. travelers made up about 60% of Mexico’s 22.4 million international visitors in 2010, according to Mexican authorities. When drug killings first began to dominate headlines in 2008, tourism to Mexico dropped steeply. But it has been rebounding slowly ever since, mostly because of international visitors from countries other than the United States.

From January to May, the number of international visitors to Mexico grew 2.1% compared with the same period in 2010, according to the tourism board. During that time, the numbers of tourists from such countries as Brazil, Russia and China have grown by double digits, the board says. Meanwhile, U.S. tourism to Mexico remained mostly flat, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In an effort to deflect attention away from the violence, Mexico’s tourism secretary, Gloria Guevara, and the governors of several Mexican states joined the recent swing through the U.S. to promote their country’s historical destinations, particularly 10 Maya archaeological sites in five Mexican states.


Tourism Australia Targets Affluent Asians

Tourism Australia recently unveiled plans for a new campaign including digital and online marketing aimed directly at big spending Asian travellers, especially from China and India.

The Australian Tourism Directions Conference was also told a 10 year strategic plan would be drawn up to attract wealthy middle-class holiday makers from India. Tourism Australia chairman Geoff Dixon told delegates the challenge was to send a unified image of what’s on offer “down under”.

“I believe our current marketing … particularly in the digital and social media spaces, is working outstandingly well for the industry,” he said. “Australia is a five star, must-see destination with some of the world’s best natural and man-made attractions. “Tourism Australia is unashamedly going to target the high-yield traveller in a new multi-faceted campaign now under planning for release in 2012.

“In the past our marketing has been far more generic and this will continue, but alongside a message of high quality and unsurpassed natural beauty.” Mr Dixon said the campaign would highlight world best attractions in Australia including luxury lodges, hotels and facilities, food and wine and natural wonders, but the message would have to be uncluttered and clear.

He said Tourism Australia had been told in no uncertain terms during recent trips to China and India that Australia spoke with too many voices. “Tourism Australia, the states and territories, airlines and private business all have legitimate messages but finite resources to spend in what is increasingly a cluttered market,” he said. “I strongly believe we would be better heard, particularly in Asia, with a clarity of marketing message through the one voice, in which some of our great experiences would be better segmented and told, helping disperse our international visitors right around the country.” Mr Dixon said there was already close co-operation between his body and the states, but that could be taken a step further to achieve better outcomes which would bring long term benefits to the industry.

Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said the 10 year plan for India would focus on how to capitalise on what will be one of the world’s most massive outbound markets of 50 million travellers in the next decade. “It’s the biggest English speaking country upon Earth,” he said. “It’s a young audience, with 62 per cent of people under the age of 26. They are an adventurous growing middle class who want to put travel and destinations like Australia on life’s resume.”

Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said it was essential for the industry to work together on its international marketing campaign. “More strategic co-operation is more important than ever”. “Team Australia domestically and internationally, but we’ll still have competition for business, sporting events etc. between states. “I think that’s healthy for the industry and keeps every state and territory on its toes and means we’ve got people chasing business internationally.”


New Zealand Invites U.S for Lifetime Memories

A new general marketing campaign was launched in the United States, asking Americans to consider New Zealand as a wonderful place to create lifetime memories during the southern summer months.

The campaign extends the 100% Pure You brand into online video for the US market. The videos feature ‘flashbacks’ to show how an everyday moment can encourage lifelong memories of a great New Zealand holiday experience. One of the videos includes Air New Zealand as a key partner, featuring their new premium long-haul product within the advertisement.

In addition to the video advertisements, rich media and flash banners are being used. A landing page has been built on which features all three advertisements, an image slideshow and partner travel deals.

Tourism New Zealand General Manager Marketing Communications Justin Watson says this campaign is part of Tourism New Zealand’s international focus to promote New Zealand as a fantastic destination in its spring and summer months. “We’re working with our industry partners to provide some really attractive offers which show that the experiences to be had in New Zealand really can last a lifetime.”

The lifetime memories campaign includes media placements and significant destination content through where the site features an image slideshow and partner travel deals. The United States is one of New Zealand’s key international tourism markets with 186,662 visitor arrivals for year end July 2011.

In addition, the forecasts show strong growth from China and promising emerging markets like Malaysia. “Tourism spending overall is expected to be roughly stable in real terms, increasing to 6.6 billion NZ dollars in 2016.”

New Zealand has been marketing itself strongly as a tourism destination in China. The national tourism agency, Tourism New Zealand, has signed up award winning Chinese film and television star Yao Chen as a brand ambassador for the country. In June, the agency signed up to a major promotional blitz with 10 Chinese travel companies in a campaign to encourage Chinese travelers to step off the track beaten by organized tour operators for more individual and adventure-based itineraries.


New Tourism Campaigns from Tunisia, Britain, Australia & Mexico

What Revolution? Tunisia’s New Tourism Campaign

In a bold attempt to attract tourists back to the country and revive its fortunes from the post-revolutionary torpor, Tunisia unveiled in June a new tourism campaign that has divided opinions. In wry but direct references to the recent turmoil in the country billboards in Europe are showing Roman ruins with the tagline “they say Tunisia is nothing but ruins.”

A bus in London carrying a showing an advert of a woman receiving a massage, next to the words: "They say that in Tunisia, some people receive heavy-handed treatment"

Another shows a sultry woman enjoying a massage whilst the line below read ”They say that in Tunisia, some people receive heavy-handed treatment.” Opinion is sharply divided on the ads. Defending the campaign, Syrine Cherif, managing director of the Tunis office of Memac Ogilvy, said that peoples fear of visiting a post-revolutionary Tunisia was the most obvious issue so “we decided to face the issue directly”.

The ads are currently running in Britain and France but are due to be rolled out across Europe soon.


Celebrities star in British Tourism Campaign

Dame Judi Dench, Twiggy and Jamie Oliver are among the celebrities in a new television advert promoting Britain internationally.

The globally-recognised figures invite viewers to join the “national mood of celebration” surrounding April’s Royal wedding, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics. As well as appearing in the commercial, each celebrity has made a personal invitation to Britain from a location of choice in a series of short films to be posted on YouTube.

Rupert Everett and Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel also feature in the campaign, by tourism agency VisitBritain. The national architecture is praised by Dame Judi, 76, while television chef Oliver, 36, celebrates Britain’s diversity and “magpie culture” of “taking the world’s best bits”.

The adverts will be shown in key countries for potential visitors, ranging from established markets such as the United States to emerging economies including China and India.

Fashion icon Twiggy, filmed on location at Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge in London, says: “I think we’ve got such an amazing stable of designers now that all the world looks to … and we are brave … we go for it and there are always new things … it’s brilliant. Britain is in my heart and soul.”

Dev Patel extols the “buzzing, energetic, boisterous” Leicester Square in London, while Everett hails the capital’s theatre experience as “sharp, exciting and engaging”.

Dame Judi is filmed at Hever Castle in Kent, her favourite visitor attraction and the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. “We have such an abundance of stately homes in Britain,” she says, adding: “We’re incredibly lucky – we retain our history.”

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said: “With the eyes of the world on us, we have an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Britain. “This campaign aims to inspire visitors to come and explore for themselves. Over four years, we aim to attract 4 million extra overseas visitors, who will spend £2 billion across Britain.”


‘No Leave No Life’ for Australians

The latest in the Australian Tourism campaigns has opened – this time for hard working Australians to be part of the third series of “No Leave No Life“.

The idea behind the campaign and the show is to encourage Australians to take time off – as the nation has 300,000 years or 123 million days of holidays stacked up in accrued leave and for some reason they just don’t take it.

Ever since 2009 and the global financial economic crisis the government has been trying to encourage people to take time off – both for their own health and also to get people spending their money at home on holidays to help local industry. And apparently Australians tend to holiday in New Zealand and the Gold Coast when they do.

Research showed that  the Key Barriers to Taking Leave are the following:

  • 57% of stockpilers consider work related barriers prevent them from taking leave, including concerns about work load before and after the event, lack of resources to cover and scheduling leave when desired.
  • 80% cited personal barriers as the cause including lack of available funds, partner’s availability and deliberate accrual for emergencies.

While the reasons Why People Stock Leave are:

  • Insurance Policy – “What if” worriers.
  • Workaholic – Too much going on at work to prioritise taking leave.
  • Golden Goal – Saving for the ‘big trip’ or ‘one day’ type travel plans.
  • Martyr – ‘No one else could do my job’.
  • Victim – Lack of immediate support from management in their absence.


Mexico Launches Mayan Tourism Campaign Through 2012

Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced the launch of “Mundo Maya 2012” (Mayan World 2012), a program to increase tourism and promote the Mayan Culture Legacy in Mexico through 2012.

“Today we are the 10th power for tourism in the world, and we are working hard to be in the top five,” Calderon said at the announcement of the campaign. “We want the world to know the splendors of the Mayan civilization, with the end goal of positioning Mexico as a privileged and unique touristic destination.”

Between now and Dec. 21, 2012, when the Mayan calendar officially ends, the Mexican government will promote a variety of events in southeastern Mexico’s “Mayan World,” made up of the states Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo andYucatan. This region is home to six of Mexico’s 27 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the most found in any one country.

Through hosting international expositions, conferences, and meetings with leading researchers and specialists, the government hopes to increase tourism to the region, which currently receives an average of 250,000 visitors a month. To improve the region’s cultural offerings, they will restore old archeological sites and open new ones, as well as promote dance festivals, concerts, theatrical performances and the region’s traditional gastronomy. The hope is that the increased tourism will create jobs and stimulate the region both economically and socially.

This focused campaign supports Mexico’s ambitious goal of becoming one of the top-five most visited countries in the world. It is estimated that 52 million tourists will visit southeastern Mexico through 2012, spending approximately $23 million.

“This effort looks to give an unprecedented boost to touristic activity in the country’s southeastern states, where this incredible civilization was established,” said Calderon. “We want tourists from Mexico and the world to know Mexico. We want them to explore the unrivaled riches that this magical region has to offer.”


Destination Marketing & Reputation Management

Brand image is everything when it comes to tourism. No matter how beautiful and attractive a destination is, if the travelers have doubts especially regarding their safety, then they will most probably choose one of the competitors.

Many countries in the world face a variety of issues, either one-off or continuous, externally sourced or internally. When the country’s economy however relies heavily on tourism then it surely needs to be proactive and safeguard its reputation, so that it can minimize the effects and protect its tourism industry and therefore to some extent its economy.

Unfortunately bad news never stop surfacing, so it is wise for especially tourism reliant destinations to have a mechanism in place that will not only allow them to address that issue affecting them more effectively, but also manage the accurate dissemination of information both internally and externally as per the accuracy and timing.

Political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East has affected the travel industry in entire countries like Egypt and Jordan. Japan has also witnessed a severe decrease on visitor numbers, following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in March. While Mexico fights to convince USA, its major market that it is safe to visit in general despite all the issued travel warnings, the Netherlands issues a ban on soft drug sales all around the country in order to shed the image of a drug destination.


Mexico has recently launched a new marketing campaign to counter its image as a country wracked by drug-related violence and reinvigorate the vital tourist industry after US travel alerts warned Americans of violence south of the border.

Tourism Officials acknowledge the fact that they left a gap in their communication following the events, since for two years they had not addressed the issue. This gap was quickly filled by bad news mainly regarding drug related violence and affected the country’s image in their major US market severely.  Some of the travel alerts had gone headlining ‘If you want to stay alive, don’t travel to Mexico’ as in March, the Texas Department of Public Safety warned college revellers not to travel to Mexico for spring break with the message: “Stay alive”.

Mexico is now spending millions of dollars on print media and billboard advertisements in US cities showing its ancient pyramids and sunny beaches to stop Americans from cancelling their visits. The U.S campaign is called “Mexico, The Place You Thought You Knew” and highlights Mexico as a destination not only for sun and beach, but also for culture, history and cuisine.

While thousands of American tourists have been scared away by the brutal drug war raging in parts of Mexico, Mr Lopez-Negrete, Mexico Tourism Board CEO,  said the volume of people visiting Mexican resorts was back up to 2008 levels, although revenues were down because hotels were offering cheaper deals to draw wavering tourists.

“We were able to drive volume upwards at a cost of lower pricing but we are happy with that because as in any other business, volume comes back first, then you start escalating to the proper pricing” he said, “That’s the strategy”. Mr Lopez-Negrete said the inaccurate travel alerts were hurting tourism, which accounts for 9 per cent of Mexico’s economic output and is its third biggest source of foreign currency.

The challenge Mexico Tourism Officials now try to tackle  is to draw visitors back to the destination while ensuring everyone’s safety. To that direction, the secretary of Mexico Tourism, Mrs Gloria Guevara says that attempts are being made to inform the industry and communicate with US tour operators and cruise ship representatives to increase visitation to the popular destinations that are completely safe while acknowledging that word of mouth is very important.


Reshaping travelers’ mental images of Japan and other affected countries is going to take considerable amounts of time. Government officials and tour operators in all of these countries are using several methods in attempts to convince would-be travelers that they shouldn’t be afraid.

What they’re trying to do is entice the most adventurous travelers to visit, in hopes they can reassure more nervous friends that these places are, for the most part, perfectly safe.

A travel agency in Oregon, led a group of about 85 Americans to Japan. Most will be doing volunteer work in Sendai and other cities that need some cleanup help. But some will just be seeing the sites, because tourism is important for rebuilding the local economy, too. The group is being wined and dined, personally welcomed by U.S. Ambassador John Roos and plenty of Japanese tourism officials. They all recognize the importance of showing that Japan is a safe place for foreign guests. The message the group wants to promote is that Japan as a whole is safe and tourism is alive. The message of real life stories of average people is always more efficient than that of government officials.

The strategy of inviting the hardiest travelers to help signal that all is ok  is one being pursued in many countries that have suffered from a recent streak of bad news.

Advertising is important, but “much more powerful is the unsung story — people who have gone over there and told their friends they didn’t feel scared,” says Shannon Stowell, president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association.


Travelers looking for adventure or ways to help out can be “pioneers” that help lead people back into Egypt, says Basem Salah, a tour operator in Cairo.

These include not just adventure travelers but travel agents, who are being lured to places like Cairo and Tokyo with free travel packages. “Some countries will offer package tours that are reduced in price,” says Jafari, the tourism professor. “This may not attract all the tourists they’re looking for, but may bring in people on a budget who always wanted to come.”

Salah says the major tourist sites in Cairo and the monuments from Aswan to Luxor are perfectly safe. But he recognizes that potential guests will need some convincing. As incentive, he and some others in the local travel industry are offering “revolutionary tours” of recently important sites like Tahrir Square.

“Now it is a re-brand that you will also see the Egyptians who made the revolution,” Salah says. “It’s not going to be monuments only, but the revolution and freedom. We will have people who participated in revolution coming to visit you.”

Salah and a number of other Egyptian tour operators are partnering with nongovernmental organizations to put together packages aimed at bringing over volunteers. In addition to sightseeing, they might spend part of their visit working with children at a cancer rehab center, or teaching deaf women to build a business by turning rice stalks into craft paper.

The hope is not just to convince people willing to come over at a difficult time to come back, but to get them to convince their friends that Egypt is a safe place to visit now. Word of mouth is the best weapon the travel business has to convince people that things aren’t as dangerous as they may look on the news.

Like a certain streak of politician, travel industry officials are fond of blaming the media for showing relentlessly negative images. “I hate to blame the media,” says Dozono, a tour operator in Portland, “but they go from one disaster to another, and they don’t show the recovery. They only show the damage, and people think it’s not safe to go there.”

On this point exactly, the destination’s tourism officials’ role is to feed the appropriate content to the media and their partners in order to ensure the accurate dissemination of information.

Lower Manhattan 9/11

A new large-scale tourism campaign will help drive more visitors to Lower Manhattan — spotlighting the area’s remarkable recovery in the nine years since the 9/11 attacks.

Beginning this month the global initiative will promote downtown neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, museums, and open spaces among local and international tourists in New York City. The campaign will include new tour itineraries, special offers at local hotels, multimedia advertisements, and discounts at shops, attractions, and the new “Downtown Culture Pass.”

Announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the NYC & Company-designed campaign is launching in anticipation of a major tourism surge downtown — where the 10th anniversary of 9/11 already is drawing scores of visitors to the World Trade Center area.

“In less than four months time, the eyes of the world will be on Lower Manhattan, as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and open the Memorial,” said Bloomberg. “An important part of the story of 9/11 is how Lower Manhattan has come back in the past 10 years. Today Lower Manhattan is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in New York City. Our new campaign will help ensure visitors from around the world know about that vibrancy and have an opportunity to take advantage of all that Lower Manhattan has to offer.”

In tandem with the new campaign is a new welcome program at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 4, which will debut in June with posters, wall clings and column wraps showing imagery of New York City with a particular emphasis on Lower Manhattan. The campaign will encourage visitors to stay in Lower Manhattan, and, for those who stay elsewhere, it will encourage them to travel downtown by mass transit.

Tourism to New York City’s five boroughs reached record levels in 2010 with 48.7 million visitors and $31 billion in visitor spending. NYC & Company — the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for the City of New York — estimates that the city will achieve Mayor Bloomberg’s goal 50 million annual visitors by 2012.


Amsterdam attracts more than 3.5 million foreign tourists per year, many of whom are drawn to the coffee shop culture and promise of being able to easily and legally obtain marijuana. However, the coffee shop cannabis trade will soon come to an end since the Dutch government plans to stop drug tourism by forcing coffee shops to become private clubs that only sell to Dutch citizens that show proof of identification.

The city of Amsterdam, where most tourists go, is against the decision. The outcry from critics has been deafening, as it is anticipated that the anti-tourist marijuana law will cost The Netherlands millions of pounds annually in lost revenue. Moreover, there is concern that the law will push the drug trade underground again, as Dutch residents will likely take to selling marijuana to tourists at inflated rates.

“The cabinet expects that the closure of coffee shops to foreign drug tourists will result in that they no longer travel to the Netherlands for the sale and consumption of cannabis,” the Dutch cabinet said in the statement. “After all, for many of them applies that they can use the existing illegal market in their own country. Nevertheless will the possible side effects of these measures be monitored closely and adequately addressed by the police, judiciary, and administration.”


Destination Marketing and the ”FOOD” element: A Market Overview

Gastronomic tourism refers to trips made to destinations where the local food and beverages are the main motivating factors for travel. It is also known as “food tourism”, “tasting tourism” or “culinary tourism”.  According to the International Culinary Tourism Association, culinary tourism is defined as “the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences”.  What this means is there is a particular audience of people who are willing to travel the world in order to sample and experience authentic international cuisines.

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation ( GPTMC ) joined with the William Penn Foundation, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission ( DVRPC ) and the local food community today to announce the launch of Philly Homegrown™, a $450,000 consumer education and tourism marketing program. Philly Homegrown™, accompanied by the tagline Real Local Flavor, promotes the people, places and flavors of the area’s 100-mile foodshed—from Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties to Amish Country to the Atlantic Ocean.

Food has an undeniable importance for holiday makers. As such, food tourism has gained an enormous potential in recent years. A high percentage of travellers, consider dining and food as relevant activities during their travels.  However, the role of food in the marketing of destinations has until recently received very little attention globally and locally. All indications, though, are that local food holds much potential to enhance sustainability in tourism; contribute to the authenticity of the destination; strengthen the local economy; and provide for the environmentally friendly infrastructure. Food also holds a key place in the “think globally, act locally” debate. Some buyers are keen to support local businesses, or protect the environment by avoiding foods which have been transported long distances.

California Travel & Tourism Commission and Wine Institute Launched National "Land of Wine and Food" Campaign back in 2008.The heart of the campaign focuses on the Web site

Destination marketing campaigns around the world show that there is a strong connection between tourism and gastronomy. However, there is little empirical evidence, to show for example, whether or not there is a gastronomy-tourism market segment. Or, does destination’s gastronomy contribute to the tourists’ quality of experiences while visiting the destination? And, do tourists return to the destination to resample its cuisine? In any case, gastronomy plays a major role in the way tourists experience the destination, and indicate that some travellers would return to the same destination to savour its unique gastronomy. To this direction more and more Destination Marketing campaigns are now focusing on the food element as a central part of its destination tourism product.

Mexico embraces food tourism to bring visitors via its latest ''Aromas & Flavors'' Marketing Initiative

Facts & Stats

  • Culinary tourism tends to be largely a domestic tourism activity, with consumers travelling to places to eat and drink specific (usually local) produce.
  • A domestic survey of leisure travellers in America found that 17% engaged in culinary related activities.
  • The International Culinary Tourism Association predicts that this will grow rapidly in the coming years. According to USA Today (27 Feb 2007), 27million Americans have made culinary activities part of their travels in the last three years.
  • In the UK, food tourism is estimated to be worth nearly $8 billion each year. International culinary tourism is less significant than its domestic counterpart. Whilst consumers do consider food when deciding where to take a holiday, it is not usually the main consideration.
  • The growth in popularity of ethnic cuisines like Thai, Indian, North African, Mexican and Chinese throughout the industrialised countries is attributable to a significant degree to tourism where visitors sample local foods and develop a taste for them.
  • Food and drink festivals constitute the sole instance where the decision to travel is taken solely on the grounds of the gastronomic experiences offered. These are becoming more prevalent, in particular in Europe. Whilst this segment is growing, at present there are estimated to be no more than one million international culinary tourists travelling each year.
  • Gastronomic consumers tent to be couples that have above-average income, are usually professionals and are aged 30 to 50. This correlates closely to the demographics of the cultural tourist.
  • The International Culinary Tourism Association states that on average, food travellers spend around $1,200 per trip, with over one-third (36% or $425) of their travel budget going towards food-related activities. Those considered to be “deliberate” food travellers (i.e. where culinary activities are the key reason for the trip) tend to spend a significantly higher amount of their overall travel budget (around 50%) on food-related activities.
The "Great Northumberland Picnics'' campaign aimed to find the best locations for eating out and wanted to let people know where they best like to spread their picnic blanket, as well as the best places to go and things to eat in the county.
  • The main source markets tend to be in Europe and North America, in particular:
    • Germany
    • United Kingdom
    • Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg)
    • Italy
    • France
    • Scandinavia
    • United States

In Europe, the main competing destinations are:

  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy

In Asia, they include:

  • Japan
  • India
  • Thailand


The " Have a cracking time in South Devon" campaign will encourage visitors from across the UK to come to South Devon to enjoy one of most delicious yet undervalued great natural local resources, South Devon crab.

According to the Barcelona Field Studies Centre there are 5 major trends driving the food tourism revolution in destination marketing.

Trend 1: Trading up

All across world, growing affluence of the populations has a profound impact on consumer spending. Consumers spend a higher proportion of their income on prepared food, gourmet products, eating out and food items with some form of health or ethical benefits. For discretionary purchases, consumers have traded up where the product is aspiration or traded down when the product is only function.

Trend 2: Demographics and Household Change

An ageing population and changing life styles have driven demand for increased eating out and food tourism opportunities. Groups that provide growing markets for food tourism are summarised in the table below.

Growing markets for food tourism

DINKS: Double Income No Kids.
SINKS: Single Income No Kids.
Both Dinks and Sinks: younger people, between 25 and 35 years of age, no children, affluent.
Empty Nesters: parents whose children have flown the family nest. Between 45 and 55 of age, well educated, high disposable income.
Boomers: members of the baby boom generation in the 1950s.
Divorcees: searching for new partners and subsequently will take prospective partners out for dinner and away for romantic weekends.

Trend 3: Rejection of ‘MacDonaldisation’

Tourists have increasingly rejected the industrial ‘fordist’ model of low cost mass production of food, searching out local, fresh and good quality cuisine that reflects the authenticity of the destination. The end of the ‘MacDonaldisation‘ of food culture has seen Starbucks fail in Australia as the brand is perceived as bland and lacking individuality.

Trend 4: Growth of the Multi-Cultured Consumer

Multiculturalism has become an everyday concept in the daily life of the consumer, driven by immigration, globalisation, the internet, the expansion in specialist and minority TV channels and the relentless growth in international tourism. What were once exotic foods have become foods of first choice and today curry is the United Kingdom’s favourite dish.

Trend 5: The Role of the Celebrity Chef and Media

The emergence of the niche food programmes, TV channels and magazines means the food celebrity and expert has been created. The celebrity chef shapes tourism products in a way that is often referred to as the ‘Delia effect’ after the media chef Delia Smith, whose 1998 television programme ‘How to Cook’ resulted in an extra 1.3 million eggs being sold in Britain each day of the series. The phenomena of Gordon Ramsey with ‘Hells Kitchen’ and the ‘F word’ or Jamie Oliver‘s campaign for good wholesome school dinners all drives our interest in good quality food. source:

The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) launched its 'I Love Korean Food' campaign in three Australian cities―Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The "JC Decaux Citylights" campaign will feature Korea's unique cuisine and give Australians the chance to win a trip to Korea for two to experience a taste of royal cuisine. To enter the competition, contestants are urged to submit an entry at naming three dishes on the table featured in the campaign's poster. The contest runs from March 22 through Aug. 31. The winner will be announced on Sept. 3.

Tourism organizations (including national, state and regional tourism boards) as well and  tour operators can benefit from targeted food tourism campaigns.  Fine cuisine and travel go hand and hand and a targeted marketing campaign can help drive that point home to these potential travelers. Gastronomic  tourism is considered a subculture of cultural tourism and certainly food is a major component of any culture. This trend can be used to encourage travelers to visit other states or even foreign countries on a quest for the best  food experience in the world.  As Benjamin Christie nicely points out  “If a person wants the best steak they may travel to Texas, the best barbeque in Louisiana and no visit to New York city  would be complete without sampling a piece of New York style pizza. Overseas, a trip to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without sampling Singapore chilli crab, butter chicken in India, chicken stay in Malaysia, peking duck in China, sushi in Japan, quesadilla in Mexico, Maori cooked hangi in New Zealand and the best pasta would require a trip to Italy, of course. The list is endless when it comes to culinary tourism”.


“Fabulous Food 1Malaysia’ celebrates the unique, diverse and fabulous Malaysian culinary that so aptly conveys the rich cultural tapestry of Malaysia,”