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Not attracting all the visitors, just the right ones

March 10, 2022

Making sustainability accessible through well-told stories

Sustainability is a megatrend and one that tourism marketing cannot avoid either. One thing is certain as the sector starts up again after the pandemic: the days when more people and more hotel beds were the only success factors are definitely over. The ways in which destinations can use storytelling as a tool in order to attract environmentally aware travellers and to stimulate their enthusiasm, and the advantages for the destinations themselves, were explained by Rob Holmes, founder and Chief Strategist | GLP Films in “Sustainability Storytelling for Destination Management”.

Until 2018 marketing was primarily concerned with attracting the maximum possible number of visitors. And, as Holmes pointed out, quite a few were successful with this approach. However, it often led to over-tourism. “Not just in major destinations but in almost all of them.” However, the pandemic has resulted in a change of values, for the destinations and also for the vacationers themselves, 83 per cent of whom now consider sustainable travel to be essential. Moreover, 76 would like to see a fairer distribution of the income generated by tourism, while 69 per cent are willing to alter their travel plans in order to avoid overcrowded destinations.

“Many travellers want to improve the situation and to achieve something with their journeys“, explained Holmes. These are the people we must address and stimulate them to say, “I would like to go there, I want to see that for myself.” And storytelling is the best way to do this, because, ever since they were very young, they have an affinity for stories. “Stories move people and inspire them, they are real and authentic“, Holmes went on to say, and brought with him two examples of visual storytelling – a film about natural tourism in Thailand and a spot entitled ”The Soul of Sedona”.

The decisive factor in storytelling, according to Rob Holmes, is to relate stories that reveal what makes a region unique and special. Some examples of how this can be put into practice can be found at Holmes also pointed out the importance of including the local community and the tourism stakeholders, and to make them part of the process. “The community is after all the heartbeat and the soul of a destination”, said Holmes. If one tells the story and prepares it, it is vitally important to find the right marketing channel. It is equally important to act in a targeted way. “One should not address all tourists, only the right ones”, is the view of this storytelling expert.