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Whether it was two clergy in Palestine Tourism’s video greeting each other on a street, or a surfer with a GoPro slicing through the water at sunset in the Maldives, the winners of the World Tourism Organization’s annual video competition all create an emotional connection with the viewer.
The UN agency announced the winners last week during its General Assembly in Medellin.
Out of the 51 videos submitted for review, there were six winners by region: Africa, East Asia/Pacific, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. The UNWTO also opened voting to the general public for two weeks leading up to the General Assembly, so perhaps unsurprisingly the People’s Choice award was given to the host nation of Colombia.
Among all of the videos, there’s a palpable and visceral sense of being immersed in the destination through the use of POV (point of view) perspective and movement that makes viewers feel like they’re along for the ride.
Apparently, if you look at the videos as a whole, the world is full of stressed-out travelers in need of immediate digital detox. Most of the destinations among all of the submissions highlight their beautiful natural environments and opportunities for outdoor activities. Those are expressed both through high-adrenaline adventure and serene moments of calm reflection that lead to transformative travel experiences with a spiritual rush.
The primary destination marketing message today seems to suggest that travelers need to slow down and focus on the essential, whatever that might mean to the individual.
Not all, though. Macau is messaging that life in the Chinese protectorate is a nonstop festival filled with fireworks, Formula 1 racing and women’s volleyball.
Here they are. These and the other submissions provide excellent case studies for all tourism bureaus about the future of video storytelling that defines the essence of place with a specific point of view.
Africa Winner: Tunisia — “I Feel Like”
The wide expanses of Tunisia’s endless desert, teal blue seas and verdant palm forests promote a sense of open space where people are inspired to breathe deeply and be more aware of the moment. The female character proceeds through a story arc encompassing every emotion we want to feel while traveling, ranging from surprise at a Star Wars production set to quiet repose on a sand dune. Complementing that variety, the natural conversation at different points of the video, the soundtrack mixing soaring orchestral and modern music, and the beautifully shot urban encounters in the market divide up the many different expansive panoramas. This wins for best editing and “most makes me want to go somewhere I didn’t consider before.”
Americas Winner: Ecuador — “All You Need Is”
There is a somewhat bizarre, counter-intuitive juxtaposition here between the tropical South American ambience in Ecuador and the male narrator dragging out the words of The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.” But it works. The video uses a lot of selective focus and slow motion to direct the viewer to calm their busy-ness and pay attention. There’s also a darker palette with non-typical tropical hues to show a more soulful side of vacationing in a sunny destination. The best part is the emphasis on the quiet and natural movement — the essential rhythms — among the land, sea, animals and people. If you watch this video long enough, you will exhale deeply.
Europe Winner: Hungary — “More Than Expected”
We highlighted this video last December because it delivers such a nuanced and unexpected identity for a nation that isn’t known for its content marketing. It begins with a woman in striking evening attire escorting the viewer into a traditional cafe, and then it segues right into a dude with a skateboard in the central plaza. Throughout the video, subtle special effects are used to transition among the many antipolar scenes ranging from swimming in the natural Budapest baths to the invention of Prezi and the Rubik’s Cube. This is easily the winner for most artistic video.
East Asia & Pacific Winner: Macau — “Vibrant Moments”
The visuals in this deftly executed video seem to promote the cliche perception of Macau without delivering anything new and unexpected. The editing is sophisticated, the message is cohesive, and the variety of production elements required a lot of time and money to put together. It should probably win some kind of award, just not this one. Overall, the video lacks the grabby emotive nature of the other videos that makes you more interested in learning about the destination, because it’s too frenetic and repetitive. In 2015, less is more. Macau might be the Las Vegas of the East, so it makes sense why this video looks and feels the way it does, but you’re bored halfway through.
Middle East Winner: Palestine — “Spirituality of Palestine”
When was the last time you watched a promotional tourism video for Palestine? That alone make this religious-themed video worthy of note, because it’s coming so far out of left field in a region overshadowed by Dubai and friends. The visual and narrative delivery in this video is nothing to write home about. Actually, the video isn’t exceptional in any way. Except, it’s about Palestine and there’s cool chanting to move the video along, so we’re glad it’s here. Our pick for “best job at promoting a tourism destination that few people think is a tourism destination.”
South Asia: The Maldives — “Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation”
It’s a bit of surprise that this video was chosen over some of the great content coming out of Turkey and India. Yes, the Maldives is unbelievably gorgeous. Yes, this video shows that. And yes, you can’t really go wrong showing people sailing on a dhow over insanely clear water with dolphins swimming alongside the bow. Some of the beginning shots during this short 30-second video are interesting, but then it devolves into a contrived travel brochure around the midway mark. The final creative feels like too many marketing people were involved in its development.
People’s Choice Winner: Colombia — “Colombia Is Magic Realism”
The storyline in this video focuses on a young couple traveling through the many diverse regions in Colombia, and in almost every single scene, they’re surrounded by local people. Colombia Tourism is the best among the bunch at illustrating how the people who live in a destination make up a strong part of the destination’s allure. However, the video takes on the difficult task of expressing Colombia’s “Magical Realism” tagline, inspired by the literature of native author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, through connected scenes integrating the woman’s necklace. That strategy doesn’t really deliver much of an impact, which may have been better expressed through one specific Colombian character personifying a surrealist muse.