These winning tourism videos don't use radical production elements to tell the stories of their countries. Instead, they let the landscapes and handshakes speak for themselves, and show why travel is such a beautiful and enlightening thing.
Whether it’s a group of influencers exploring a thousand-year-old mountaintop mosque in Tunisia or hiking through the Atacama Desert in Chile, the winners of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s annual video competition show off each country’s landscapes and how seeing them with friends makes all the difference.
The UN agency announced the winners earlier this month during its General Assembly in Chengdu, China. UNWTO member states’ national tourism boards could submit videos from national tourism marketing campaigns covering 2011 to the present, although all winning videos were published within the past year.
The UNWTO picked five winners from Africa, East Asia/Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, culled from 63 videos submitted. The U.S., Canada and Australia aren’t UNWTO members and weren’t eligible to participate in the contest. The UNWTO also opened voting to the general public for two weeks leading up to the General Assembly and the people’s choice award went to the East Asia/Pacific winner, Wonderful Indonesia’s “The Journey to a Wonderful World” video.
See all winning videos embedded below.
The five winning videos attracted a combined 1.2 million YouTube views alone. Some videos, or parts of them, ran as TV commercials.
Tourism boards are using these marketing campaign videos to appeal to a broad range of travelers and they reflect different regional approaches. Some videos, however, such as Colombia’s meetings and conventions video and Serbia’s Danube River cruising video, are clearly targeting niche audiences.
Among all of the videos, there’s a sense of being immersed in the destination through the use of a point of view perspective that makes viewers feel like they’re along for the ride.
Many of the videos drive the point that these destinations are best seen and explored with friends and family. Most of the destinations highlight their beautiful natural environments and outdoor activities. The videos portray these attributes through high-adrenaline adventure and moments of calm reflection that leave many travelers amazed that some countries’ landscapes and climates can run a wide spectrum, such as in Chile’s “Find Your Chile – Chile is Waiting For You” video.
Below are the winning videos. These videos are excellent case studies for tourism bureaus about the future of video storytelling. They reinforce people’s connections to nature and and how experiencing that as a traveler is a highlight of any trip.
People’s Choice Award and East Asia/Pacific Winner: Indonesia – ‘The Journey to a Wonderful World’
Louis Armstrong’s voice and classic song, “What a Wonderful World,” is a familiar melody that brings about feelings of comfort, nostalgia and peace. Making Indonesia seem more familiar and comfortable is what this video, published in November 2016, aims to accomplish. It definitely romanticizes dance and relaxation as signatures of the country; the video shows travelers that they can truly get away from it all, and can also visit bustling metropolises if they wish.
The video subtly references tourism’s positive benefits on local populations and how people-to-people interactions are vital for the health of the global travel industry. Perhaps this is why Indonesia’s video won the people’s choice award; positive tourist interactions with locals help bridge geopolitical divides. Locals in the video also seem happy to see tourists and, given what’s happening in some European cities regarding overtourism, it’s important to remember that much of the world is still looking for ways to attract more tourists to their destinations.
Africa Winner: Tunisia: ‘#TrueTunisia’
Ancient and modern Tunisia are on display in this video. Published in June 2016, It features five European YouTubers who descend on the country to learn about its ancient history and culture, including 11th-century mosques and and souks as the country once served as major Mediterranean trading post. The influencers indulge in award-winning spas and beachfront dining.
In a country that has recently suffered terrorist attacks and political unrest in the past decade, it’s refreshing to see Tunisia portrayed positively for a change. Tunisia’s seemingly 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. Tunisia was also the Africa winner for the UNWTO’s video competition in 2015.
Americas Winner: Chile – ‘Find Your Chile – Chile is Waiting For You’
For us, Chile’s won for its “most likely to make us want to go there” appeal. The landscapes are the real protagonists in this storyline. And rather than using Chilean people to tell you about why they love their corners of the country, the tourism board uses travelers from around the world to give their perspectives on why Chile’s natural beauty is a magnet that keeps pulling them back in. The tourism board published the video in November 2016.
No doubt, Chile is trying to capture the attention of travelers who are concerned with how Instagram-worthy a destination is when determining whether they should go there. It’s difficult for some destinations to show rather than tell but Chile does a nice job of conveying its message and showing that while it has something for everyone, it does a great job at offering deeper experiences.
Europe Winner: Greece – ‘Greece – A 365-Day Destination’
More destinations want to market themselves as year-round destinations to spread out tourism visitation and dollars. Countries like Greece are buzzing in the warm weather but quiet in the winter; you get a sense that Greece is lively no matter what time you visit if you know where to find the action. But perhaps the real stars of the video, published in August 2017, aren’t the seasons but instead is the diversity of Greek experiences. Many travelers exclusively think of Greece’s islands but this video spotlights other parts of the country that aren’t as well-known.
Middle East Winner: Egypt – ‘This is Egypt’
Egypt’s tourism industry has suffered one setback after another over the past decade and its video avoids any talk of revolution, violence and terrorism. The video, published in October 2016, perhaps wins for “best comeback story.” It has a cohesive storyline of how the country has “a long story” that spans thousands of years.
The educational component seems to clash with the nightlife vibes that flicker on and off throughout. But a tourism board’s job is to sell the destination, when safe to do so, even if it’s not perfect and trying to put its past behind it. And if selling the bright side of Egypt is the aim, this video certainly succeeds.
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Photo credit: Bringing friends along on trips and making friends on the way is one of the best ways to travel. This is on display in many of the world's best tourism videos. Pictured is a still from Indonesia's winning video. Wonderful Indonesia