Destination Branding Workshop

by Manolis Psarros – abouTourism

Destination Branding is back in fashion as cities and countries all over the world pursue image makeovers designed to help them stand out in the weak global economy, attract visitors and investments.

However, there is a huge confusion over the term and its implications for the destination industry. Millions of dollars are spent over tourism campaigns without actually involving real action & policy-making on the field (where tourist activity actually takes place & visitors perceptions are shaped).

While Simon Anholt states that ’Nation Branding is a dangerously misleading phrase which seems to contain a promise that the images of countries can be directly manipulated using the techniques of marketing communications’’ others go even further and support that countries cannot really be treated as brands.

On the other hand, most of the branding experts and destination professionals  agree that when it comes to tourism,  branding seems to work, although there still seems to be a misconception between branding and communications strategies.
A  few months ago I have been asked to lead a Destination Branding Workshop for the East African Tourism Investment Summit as a representative of the World Centre of Excellence for Destinations ( The main objective was to clearly explain the different schools of thought and succesfully transform the knowledge produced by global experts into practical suggestions for the DMOs. We are currently looking at options to offer this workshop in more regions around the world. We will keep you posted on future opportunities.

At this time please feel free to view below the Destination Branding Workshop Presentations slides along with two case studies (New Zealand & Colombia ) by Tom Buncle (Destination Branding Expert/Author of UNWTO/ETC Handbook on Tourism Branding & member of the abouTourism network of experts).

PART ONE: Defining the Concepts & 9+1 Brand-Building Principles

PART TWO: Creating a Place Brand

Creating a place brand calls for collaborative research to design an effective strategy, a high level of community & stakeholders engagement and a strong political will to implement it. When it comes to tourism and destination branding it’s all about ”creating a sense of place and telling a story” (Tom Buncle).

In this second part of the Destination Branding Workshop we analyze in brief the real facts, challenges and solutions on the place branding strategy through a tourism perspective. Enjoy the slideshare presentation  and feel free to make your comments.

CASE STUDY 1: New Zealand: From Fuddy-Duddy Destination for Émigrés to Funky Hotspot for Adrenalin Junkies

By Tom Buncle, Managing Director, Yellow Railroad (Nov 2010) – for abouTourism blog (Manolis Psarros)

New Zealand may be the most admired tourism destination brand in the world by its competitors (according to research undertaken amongst UNWTO members by Yellow Railroad in 2009), but not many people are aware that the idea behind the “100% Pure” campaign started life not as a destination brand, but as a place branding strategy. And it is still one of the best exemplars of place branding in the world. Click here for the full text.

CASE STUDY 2: Colombia: From Pariah State to Progressive Economy

By Tom Buncle, Managing Director, Yellow Railroad (Nov 2010) – for abouTourism blog (Manolis Psarros)

Question: How do you change a country’s image from one of the world’s “bad boys” to somewhere people want to invest and visit?

Answer: You don’t do it overnight or through flash marketing. You do it by changing your behaviour, your infrastructure and your institutions; and then you tell people about the changes …. but not before you’ve changed the very fabric of your country. Then, and only then, can the brand kick in as a signal of the new nation. And to get the message across that you’ve changed, you need to focus ruthlessly on your core assets and values. Oh ….. and it can help to attract people’s attention if you’re a bit controversial. click here for the full text.