When I look at all those ads promoting countries as touristic destinations I can only wonder whether treasury inspectors ever look at the stuff funded with hard earned taxpayers money. In posters, magazine ads, even TV spots they want to overcome the clichés and educate us about the excellent skiing facilities in Spain, river rafting in Egypt, or yachting in Austria – if I remember rightly my last encounters with this most unmemorable type of advertising around.
Granted, there’s a lot of board decisions and mixed opinions involved and the route to approval is a minefield. Also granted, large parts of the local economy that depend on tourist money don’t feel directly supported when Egypt advertises the pyramids, for instance. But can anyone seriously believe that when Egypt advertises river rafting instead of the pyramids, this would make the river rafters, whatever their preferred destinations today are, switch to Egypt in large crowds?
The pitfall in trying to overcome the clichés is that they drive the volume of tourism. Broadening the perception of a destination, on the other hand, can only blur the differences and make the visit less compulsory. If you want to see the pyramids you MUST go to Egypt; to watch bull-fights or express your disgust about it you MUST go to Spain. If I want to go river rafting I can go a thousand places.
“Yes, but …”
If you sit on the tourism board of, well, Egypt, you might say: This is plausible and we thought about it but our marketing problem is different. We need to overcome that people think Egypt has nothing but the pyramids and only book short trips. We want to significantly raise the average number of days travellers stay in the country.
My reply would be: What’s the added value from a trip extension if you weaken the overall competitive strength of your country brand in the global fight of fine destinations for travellers? You may want to educate the travel agents, highlight your river rafting facilities on the web and search-engine optimize Egypt’s ranks on important holiday activities. But you never want to un-focus the perception of your country as the land of the pyramids.
My guess is that, at the end of the day, you’re just plainly suffering from ‘pyramid fatigue’.