When travel came to a complete standstill, worldwide most destinations were executing a strategy of staying in the hearts and minds of the traveler without selling hard.  

Phrases like dream now, travel later and travel tomorrow but stay home now were widespread.

A lot of countries are now in a reopening phase, but many are still in an early peak. What is your situation ?

Find out by creating different scenarios for, crisis, re-open and normalize that will apply for you destination.

What will be your role ? You have to be smart, your budget might be small.

Luckily, people will always want to travel: and once bans are lifted they will ! And probably (if not managed) all at the same time.

Crisis Phase

During the crisis phase, you want to Stay in the minds of people, Don’t sell - but inspire, bond help to get through crisis together.

Especially people who are in the lower 50% income group are currently losing their jobs all over the world. In Canada at the moment about 30 procent is worried to lose their job in the upcoming 4 weeks. If you are in such an anxiety traveling especially long haul is not on your radar.

Re-Open Phase Domestic

As a destination marketing organisation, you probably first want to focus on domestic tourism, to slowly kick start the tourism industry again and make the country ready for new inbound arrivals. Early domestic tourism will probably be focused on refreshing physical and mental capacities after a harsh time.

Domestic tourism promotion can be used to let travelers spend more in the country (more, longer, or higher value trips) but also to spread tourist evenly over the country.

Social Distancing and new health measures will impact the leisure and holiday experience. People might get travel certificates, or mobile app that allow or don't allow them to travel, restaurants, attractions and hotels might get caps on their availability, and not unlikely when people are suddenly allowed to travel again. They might go in masses to the same spot. Something you don't want as a policy maker.

You probably also have areas in the country that don't want tourist, or maybe not from a certain city or area.

Creating a marketing campaign therefore needs to be very agile and involve multiple stakeholders from industry but also from governments on a local level.


Restart the tourism industry in a safe way, spread tourists to avoid crowds. Regain trust from travellers.


Initially people don't have much choice and most people will be exited to go out, as a destination marketing organisation you want to spread them to avoid crowds, later domestic is a good choice for people who don't want to take a lot of risks, and want to be able to return quickly


Self Guided Tours

More product ideas

Campaign Ideas & Messages

Discover & learn new things in your country, show old traditions to your children, learn about history. Refresh and destress yourself, Escape and go out in Nature, treat yourself with wellness.

What are the health and safety measure organized by the industry (and checked by the government)

What are the rules travelers should oblige to while travelling.

  • Visitors will also need to observe health safety measures such as temperature screening, wearing face masks and maintaining a distance of at least one meter from each other at all times.
  • Organize photo & video campaign to generate user generated content your destination can use to inspire more travellers

When your destination is opening up for domestic tourism you still need a covid 19 page to inform travelers about health measure and restrictions. The tone will change from what you can't do to what you can do.

A great example is the Travel Alerts page of the tourism board of New South Wales in Australia.

Marketing during Reopening for Regional Countries

Your role as a destination marketing organisation is to first reinstall trust in your destination and guide visitors to enjoy your destination in a responsible way by explaining health measure and guidelines and to spread tourists in your destination to avoid crowded areas.

How do you help travelers in this still very uncertain and changing situation to go on holiday to your destination.

Travelers initially will identify the risk of visiting your destination, are the number of new Covid infections, stable or are new clusters still pupping up. Therefor showing where these clusters are and that they are local can be an important part of gaining trust.

The numbers you are able to handle will depend on the supply side: especially in the early phase of recovery social distancing will play a role, how does your destination manage this, how to avoid big crowds at popular (religious ?) attractions ?.

For your re-opening phase you need to give a solutions to the concerns of travelers. According to this Travel Age West article:

These are USA travelers main concerns:

  • Catching or spreading COVID-19
  • Worried there will be restrictions to travel freely through a destination. (Lot of restrictions).
  • Worried that a lot of attractions are closed and that you can not fully enjoy a destination.
  • The fight between Donald Trump and NY Governor brought to daylight an interesting moral question if indeed we are in this togheter or if people who are immune should be give freedom again to work, spend and go out (travel), i’m not sure how this will develop, but there might be a change a that early travelers are those who can prove that they are immune and don’t cary coronavirus.  
  • Keep an close eye on travel advisories - market to those countries that have easy advisories
  • In marketing and email marketing this might become very important, you don’t want to send a message to people come and travel again while they are still locked. 

Which Target Markets will return ? 

The Swiss came up with an interesting model to forecast early travel intent after the covid-19 pandemic by combine google trends and organic traffic from target markets.

In google trends you monitor search behavior for hotels, travel, a well known airport in the area, searches for travel insurance.

You can be immediately informed in search behavior changes by installing an alert in Google Trends: https://trends.google.com/trends/subscriptions

Target Markets

Which markets around your country are opening up ? Probably the government will make special arrangement with several countries to facilitate initial traveling between countries.

Target Groups

  • Adventure travelers / (young) backpackers & Digital Nomads - Remote workers - People who dare to take risks, in exchange for discounts, 

Campaign preparation

Target Markets ? 

Direct flights - transit might be cumbersome ?

Audience : flying might be more expensive, the crisis hit people with money the least, luxury segment might be the international audience ? 

  • make special packages 
  • Focus on Cheap flights Carriers might open
  • Exclusive experiences in hotels
  • Exclusive experiences in restaurants
  • Exclusive experiences from Tour operators

Campaign Ideas & Messages

Completely different, but still close to home, easy to go back home, because of direct flights, self drive or other fast transport options.

  • Focus on inspiring (top of funnel only)
  • Use your best experiences
  • Make them excellent on your site
  • Blog about them
  • Put them on On FB and on Instagram
  • Make videos for on FB, Instagram & Youtube
  • Market in cities that you are know in
  • Focus on Remote & Virgin Destinations
  • Welcome Back Campaign
  • Give gift to people who make a photo
  • Give gift by local host - host and visitor make picture together 
  • #WelcometoBack / ThankYouFor
  • Create Grids / with best experiences and friendly host receiving guests 
  • I love .... : based on returning guests : open bookings with advance money to help 
  • Exclusive openings - what you see in China is that attractions go open with a cap on their capacity. // this could be made positive by offering exclusive early decider deals with very exclusive packages. 

The website in Indonesia gives clear reasons to come soon and show what they do to prepare the country for tourist to return.

Virtual Tours
  • Virtual Reality - 360 degree 
  • Best would be tours that can be experienced together with others. 
  • Virtual tours in virtual worlds like second life. 

AA : Airport Authority Hong Kong, buys tickets now - to provide cash to airlines, and gives away the tickets later to visitors as part of their recovery campaign.

Google Ads

Since a lot of travel companies are retreating their Google Adds - Destinations could bid for less money on keywords that are normally expensive. 

Another role could be to get traction : where the industry doesn’t have the money: for example normally it doesn’t make sense to bid for a very competitive keywords your trade is bidding on, because you will compete with your own industry, however now they might not bid. 

Image from: Kodi

Tool kits for the trade

To help the trade selling your destination it's helpful to create a tool kit with :

  • Virtual Tours
  • Ideas for Being Creative with your destination
  • Tools that help selling your destination like zoom back grounds
  • Data from source markets
  • Organize virtual conferences to present your destination to oversea buyers with tools like Remo


Marketing Budget:

DMO's that get their funding through taxes need to be creative, their budgets might be small once travel bounces back. What we see is there is group of people that is more eager than ever to travel. The trick is to send your budget on only those that are willing to come and make them spend more, and those that might come to give them that last push.  For this you need to dive into the behavior of your key audiences.