Top Ten Memorable Tourism Campaigns: 2019 Edition

What a few months it’s been! Teaching, travelling, SuperHost-leading, and my youngest started school … time has flown by. 

Each spring I usually recap a top ten list of tourism marketing campaigns and this one has been on ice for awhile. Courtesy of the MA in Tourism Management students at Royal Roads University, I give you their selection of the “most memorable tourism marketing” campaigns of years past. They are:

10.California: Dream Big 


This campaign uses ambassadors, humour, as well as social engagement (#dreambig) to bring their new tagline to life. Dream365 is a series potential visitors can stream to get a taste of experiences from girl time at the skateboard park to swimming and surfing the waves. They even have a 360 degree VR component with several featured attractions:°-vr-experience

9.What Happens In … 

It wouldn’t be a top ten list without someone mentioning the evergreen “What Happens in Vegas” theme. What struck one of our students this year is that the materials they saw featured video content of teammates hoisting a trophy, prompting the viewer to think “those are the kinds of memories you want to make and keep in Las Vegas”. 

8.Aurora Tourism (Visit Tromsø)

One of my students had an “aha moment” when she was fed online content from Visit Tromsø. Their webpage features “Northern Lights” after their headings of Plan, Discover, Accommodations, See & Do, but the DMO cautions visitors that “there are no guarantees that you will see the Northern Lights” before explaining “and that makes it even more exciting.”

7.Australia: The Most ‘Grammable Country?

Tourism Australia’s work on Instagram is well known. As one of the most followed global brands, their genius for repurposing visitor and resident photos has made them destination marketing legends. Students also pointed to their recent work using stories and other tools to showcase experiences. By creating polls asking visitors which activity to choose (surfing or the zoo, for example), Tourism Australia reps would do the fan favourite, creating further engagement with their audience. 

Tourism Australia’s caption reads: Wayne’s not normally in such a bad mood – he’s just not his usual happy self on Mondays, which is understandable! Thankfully, the other turtles that live on @queensland’s #GreatBarrierReef are very polite and love to swim with humans. Photo: @_markfitz

6.The Fab Five and Georgia

More than one student commented on the effect that Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye has had on marketing Georgia as a tourism destination. The state of Georgia offers a 20-30% tax credit to shows filming in the state. Georgia also provides a suitable set of conservative small town backdrops for Seasons 1 and 2, allowing these destinations to shine for a broad audience.  That said, the show has been lured to Kansas City, Missouri, whose film office offers a more modest 10% base incentive but used letters from the city mayor and other stakeholders to pitch the location to showrunners. 

5.“Move to the Colombian Beat”

Okay, so this student got it wrong, it’s “Colombia: Feel the Rhythm”, but in TOMA (top of mind awareness), getting the tagline right isn’t the point. What’s important is that a group of potential visitors are now considering Colombia based on their ‘feel the rhythm’ initiative that includes music, video, and a distinctive black-backgrounded neon colour scheme. The focus on music and culinary repositioned Colombia in the student’s mind from an unsafe and violent destination to one worth checking out. 

4.Fallsview Casino on YouTube

Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls (Ontario) came out with a series of YouTube spots that also ran on local TV, where humour was used to create various scenarios in which someone might “need some fun” at the casino, like after a breakup, or after going viral at the gym. 

3.Oregon 360’s … unique mascot

With a deep-voiced narrator and glamour shots of the state, most of us expected … well, the expected. But Oregon wants us to know that they’re nothing if not campy and irreverent and just a little weird. That’s why the host of their 360 experience is … a robot fish. Enjoy! 

Join … this guy.

2.Tourism Australia Super Bowl Ad

As a marketer, I’m not supposed to like Super Bowl ads. I literally spend months helping undergrad students understand that “marketing is not just advertising”, “promotions is not just advertising”, and “advertising is not just TV ads”. Well, sometimes I get it wrong. When you’re a global brand like Australia, why not go big with a funny and charming incentive to visit their social channels and have the trip of a lifetime?

1.Tour Route 16

Closer to home, the number one pick for this year is the collaborative niche effort for British Columbia’s Tour Route 16 (, which pulls together a landing page, digital content, direct marketing (e-newsletter) and other assets to encourage motorcyclists to well … Tour Route 16. Route guides, road maps and resources give this market everything they need to create the road trip of their dreams. 

I was stoked to see this data capture the first time I visited the page!

When’s the last time a tourism ad cut through the clutter and made an impression on you? Share your feedback in the comments.

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