How exactly do you promote a tourism destination when travel itself is forbidden? The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the British tourism industry, with a nationwide lockdown scuppering spring and summer campaigns. From virtual tours, Facebook Live festivals to relaxing soundscapes, we take a look at some of the most creative ways destinations have continued to market themselves whilst adhering to government regulations.
Visit London: Virtually London
One of the most visited cities in the world, Visit London was one of the first tourism organisations to take tourism online amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Headed up by ‘We may all be isolating at home but that shouldn’t stop us enjoying London’s culture’, the new Virtually London page on their website invites travellers and locals to enjoy galleries, theatres and historic institutions online.
Ranging from virtual museum tours and livestreams to online classes, highlights include live ballet from the Royal Opera House, Borough Market’s live cooking classes and virtual tours of iconic sights such as the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Encouraging online experiences that audiences can share on social media platforms keeps cultural institutions present in the public mind whilst they are unable to operate as usual. www.visitlondon.com/virtually-london
Visit Manchester: #MCRMissesYou
The northern cultural powerhouse attracts the second most tourism day visits in the country behind London, and the launch of their #MCRMissesYou campaign gives travellers the opportunity to ‘continue to enjoy Greater Manchester, and stay fit and healthy during social distancing methods’. In an effort to keep the Visit Manchester brand in would-be travellers minds during lockdown, the tourism board is offering a series of virtual tours, podcasts, behind the scenes experiences, safety and education resources and interviews with sports stars on how to keep fit at home.
Combining these offerings with information on how you can continue to support local business and the unifying hashtag helps spread positivity, encourage UGC (user generated content) and showcase some proper northern spirit, ready to be experienced when the time is right to revisit the city. www.visitmanchester.com/ideas-and-inspiration/manchester-misses-you
Visit Scotland: Sounds of Scotland
Visit Scotland were one of the tourism boards quickest to adjust their strategy to the coronavirus outbreak. They unveiled the ‘Sounds of Scotland’ radio station, playing relaxing natural sounds from the country’s landscapes, in addition to a host of virtual experiences. Described as a ‘feast for the senses’, visitors can listen to the gentle lapping of water against the Scottish shoreline, watch swirling mist move across picturesque moors and be serenaded by soaring seabirds.
Not only was this an excellent way to continue to sell Scotland tourism without explicitly encouraging people to travel, the awareness to put out content that can have a calming, relaxing effect on people during extremely difficult circumstances is both commendable and a clever assessment of consumer need. soundsofscotland.visitscotland.com
Visit Somerset & Visit Exmoor: Somerset Day Virtual Festival
As part of a week of celebrations for Somerset Day, Visit Somerset & Visit Exmoor teamed up to put on the first ever Somerset Day Virtual Festival, a day of virtual tours, presentations, cook-alongs and performances from across the county.
Live streamed via Facebook, leading Somerset-based businesses such as Yeo Valley, Thatchers and Porlock Bay Oysters showcased interactive experiences for the public to join in with at home, promoting Somerset and Exmoor local producers, tourism opportunities but above all else giving something back to the public during lockdown. The event brought together 25+ local businesses, giving them a platform to share what makes the county so special.