Danny Rogers: Nations wake up to power of tourism

Dozens of nations have spent millions of pounds at World Travel Market this week - the huge destination marketing fair that takes place in London each November.

Danny Rogers: Nations wake up to power of tourism
Danny Rogers: Nations wake up to power of tourism

Why? Because their governments realise that even in a stagnant global economy, international tourism remains buoyant and creates millions of jobs. If they can communicate their national 'brands' effectively, it can pay big dividends.

While some destinations have trimmed marketing budgets owing to public sector cuts, other economically challenged nations are acutely aware of the need to ramp up comms at this juncture.

Word reaches me that the Greek tourism minister has been in London, talking to PR agencies this week. It is a smart move, because regardless of the sovereign debt crisis, tourism will remain one of Greece's biggest exports. And the embattled country must communicate that its beautiful islands and coastlines remain open for business.

It is amazing how quickly the current affairs agenda can impact on tourism trends, costing countries millions in exports. As I write, Italy's economic crisis is reaching a peak, and BBC's Today programme is questioning how this will affect Italy's famous 'la dolce vita' (the sweet life). This may appear glib, but it is crucial to Italian tourism chiefs that this does not become the international perception.

Kenya, hugely reliant on tourism, is still struggling to regain valuable holiday-makers after several high profile attacks on Westerners.

And no country is focusing more on tourism than America. This week the website Discover America was launched, along with the first unified US tourism brand, created by ad agency J Walter Thompson. It is the result of a bill passed by President Obama, part funded by America's regional tourism bodies and by the ESTA visa charges that we now pay when visiting the States.

The reasons why Obama is turbo-boosting America's tourism comms are threefold: jobs, jobs and jobs. If Obama can bring US unemployment down he stands a much better chance of being re-elected. Inbound tourism will play a major role in this quest.

This week, for exactly the same reason, the UK Government announced a £27m injection for VisitBritain, ahead of next year's Olympics.

Despite recessions, a significant chunk of the world's population will still be wealthy, and lucky, enough to be able to travel. The battle to lure these lucrative visitors can only grow in intensity. Fortunately this trend will also provide welcome investment for the comms business.

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