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SKIFT GLOBAL FORUM | SEPTEMBER 21-23 | ONLINE CONFERENCE | THE DECADE AHEAD: SAFEGUARDING TRAVEL’S FUTURE

Yesterday’s marketing doesn’t work in the Covid-19 era, and destinations from Bermuda to Singapore and San Diego are revamping strategies to stay relevant and cope.

“Before Covid, we were trying to get New Yorkers to come for a four-day weekend, and now we are saying come and stay for four months,” said Glenn Jones, Interim CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, referring to the fact that visitors can stay up to 180 days, and others who obtain a newly designed work from Bermuda permit hang around for a year.

Glenn Jones

Jones said the work permit, which is on track to generate 400-500 applications, most of which the territory approves, will have a significant impact on both the general and tourism economies because most applicants are C-suite executives or managing directors.

Jone offered his remarks on Wednesday at the online Skift Global Forum during a discussion moderated by global tourism reporter Rosie Spinks on “Rethinking Growth for Destinations.” Panel members also included Julie Coker, CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority, and Keith Tan, CEO of the Singapore Tourism Board.

Keith Tan

Tan said the destination is pivoting toward a multifaceted marketing approach in trying to get more sophisticated about targeting higher-value tourists, as well as for the first time engaging with local Singaporeans, many of whom have long considered attractions in the city-state as only being for “crazy rich Asians.”

Even before the pandemic, Tan said, Singapore knew it had to transition away from tourism at high volumes, but the destination now has to consider new metrics to measure the right balance.

Measuring Diversity

Julie Coker

Jule Coker, the San Diego CEO, said the city is likewise adopting a work from San Diego message, and she added that destinations should recognize that their advertising should not only  represent visitors they are trying to attract, but should also reflect the community itself.

Jones of Bermuda emphasized that it would be key for tourism boards to set diversity goals and to report the results even if the targets fall short.

Spinks, who was moderating the panel, agreed that the Black Travel Alliance concurs that diversity efforts are not about “naming and shaming,” but should entail starting right away.

Singapore has long been compelled by its location to market to different ethnicities, including Indians and Chinese, for example, Tan said.

Still Influential

The destination marketers seemed to agree that influencers should be part of their marketing strategies, including those who can promote healthy practices in the pandemic era, and Jones of Bermuda said the territory, in a twist, is now using local influencers to encourage outdoor adventures for Bermudians.

All agreed that new business models for tourism bodies may come into play given the way the world, including tourism, has changed.

Photo Credit: A still from one of Bermuda Tourism Authority's campaigns. Bermuda is issuing permits for digital nomads who want to work there for a year. Bermuda Tourism Authority