Skift Take

The rise of responsible travel messaging in marketing is a welcome next step, as destinations prepare for the return of large summer crowds locally, and international travelers keep a close eye on their favorite locales. Now's also the time to warn the ugly tourists.

A year ago, the global pandemic left destination marketing organizations scrambling to pause their promotional messaging. What started out as a wait-and-see approach evolved into advice to stay home and dream, while keeping favorite destinations top of mind for when safe travel eventually returns.

A year later, there’s a clear shift happening in marketing messaging as vaccines in the U.S., Europe and Asia continue rolling out and travelers are vacation planning and booking.

It’s the rise of the responsible travel marketing campaign, encouraging travelers to be more respectful in their behavior — to enjoy outdoor places but remain conscious of their choices once they begin to explore again, whether in their respective vaccinated backyards or when the time comes, on their international vacations.

From Portugal’s push to get consumers to think of the preservation of our planet long-term, to Florida’s Manatee County’s appeal to vacation responsibly by minding one’s trash on its island beaches, these three campaigns strike the right note at this evolving time in our industry’s recovery.

Portugal: Hello World — It’s Me, Tomorrow

Portugal’s high level message speaks to the world directly, marveling at its natural wonders, vibrant colors and ecosystems while evoking in “tomorrow’s traveller” — shown through the face of locals — the importance of doing better for the planet, to which humans are inherently connected. It’s a forward looking message at how we can do better once Portugal, and the world, reopens. “Let’s change today and we will keep visiting tomorrow,” the campaign says.

Scotland: Yours to Enjoy — Responsibly

“Let’s keep Scotland special now and for generations to come,” Visit Scotland‘s new campaign says, urging travelers to respect Scottish communities and wildlife as they roam. The message to slow down and immerse echoes the “build back better” sentiment that the industry has been pushing since the pandemic forced a rethink on overtourism and climate change impacts.

FLorida’s Bradenton Gulf Islands: Love it Like a Local

As larger numbers of Americans begin to vacation in their backyards again, the majority continue to flock to outdoor mountain and beach destinations  — particularly in Florida.

In anticipation of an even bigger surge this summer and in time for Earth Day 2022, the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau launched a new “Love It Like a Local” campaign to guide visitors in enjoying their destination — including the increasingly popular and small Ana Maria Island — but also caring for it. The campaign comes on the heels of increasing resident complaints about visitor noise and trash on beaches.

“The video is from a child’s perspective so that way it resonates with children — we want this to be good for people of all ages,” Kelly Clark, marketing and communications director at Bradenton CVB, said. “We’re also hoping that hey, if this 11-year-old girl can tell you to respect the rules, then the adults will too.”  

As the U.S. braces for a busy summer of travel and the industry remains on a path to slow recovery at a global level, all while rethinking what it means to build back better, these responsible travel marketing campaigns gracefully tackle the other side of the safety coin: protecting communities and the environment from the inevitable impact of returning tourists.


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Tags: destination marketing, responsible travel, tourism campaigns

Photo credit: Florida Bradenton County's Anna Maria Island is one of several destinations that recently launched a responsible travel campaign. Carol VanHook / Flickr Commons

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