Create Tourism in Your Region

Across Canada, small cities and towns are looking to attract their share of the tourism dollars; turning a once unknown spot on the map into a destination. Big cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are generating even larger tourism dollars because growing rural tourism contributes to their economic health.

The Niagara Region of Southern Ontario (Canada) is responsible for $1.6 Billion in visitor spending. While more than a billion visitors stay overnight, an additional half million of those visitors make it a day trip.

Certain topographical features are also a huge draw. Hamilton, once deemed an industrial centre, has now re branded itself as the Waterfall Capital of the World – boasting over 125 unique waterfalls and water features. Along with a revitalized downtown core, prestigious restaurants and artists galore, this once industrial city is now visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year!

Rural tourism benefits from those visiting the major metropolitan areas also. Destinations within a one to two hour drive outside these major centres are the perfect cornerstone destinations  – where people can experience artistic styles and traditional occupations such as farming, free range livestock, cheese making, vineyards, wood working, iron forging and other skills that may be passed on to future generations. These hands on skills, coupled with the artisans and farmers themselves, create a unique and interesting community for tourists to visit.

Your small town or city may have hidden talents and skills within your local population you have yet to discover; this is why identifying your assets is so important.

Identifying Your Location’s Assets

Knowing how to leverage your destination’s unique assets is an important step to increasing tourism in your area. This is where a Destination Marketing service will provide a boost to promote tourism in your area.

The goal of successful tourism is to:

  • Promote regional awareness.
  • Showcase unique features.
  • Preserve and sustain rural culture through education.
  • Create a network to support businesses, services, and historical components within your community.

The aim of a Destination Marketing Specialist is to quantify a community’s assets and work with the town/city to identify features across the community as a whole and assist in developing a campaign to cross-promote various local features to visitors.

Destination Marketing identifies eight key asset areas to help understand unique elements within your community (some assets may fall into multiple categories):

  1. Architecture
  2. Art
  3. Commerce
  4. Cuisine
  5. Culture
  6. Geography
  7. History
  8. People

Tips To Get The Locals Excited

Pro Tip: Harness the power of locals – engage the locals and they will become key players in your marketing strategy!

Establish A Tourism Ambassador Program

There are organizations that offer training for front–line employees in hotels, restaurants and attractions.The training is geared to align brand messaging to visitor experience. Destination-smart drivers, servers, tour guides, town/city staff and even police, pass on in-depth knowledge to visitors in a way that reflects positively within the community. This approach can craft a team that supports the DMO’s mission. Some of these programs offer certification and ongoing training.

The OTEC – Ontario Tourism Education Corporation offers a Tourism Excellence Ambassador Program that can be taken online or in the classroom. The courses may also be government funded in some instances.

As a small town/city host a one day symposium for locals to teach them the ins and outs of social media marketing, hospitality and enhancing the visitor experience. You may also want to discuss the state of local attractions and what is being done to improve infrastructure to encourage tourism.

Informed local ambassadors who understand the relationship between your town/city’s economic development lend to positive input that can help shape the conversation about the importance of tourism on a grass roots level.

Local Talent As Greeters

Get your town/city’s local Ambassadors working as greeters in your Visitor’s Centre, distributing Destination brochures at festivals, staffing welcome tables at sports tournaments or spreading their knowledge and love of your town/city at outside events.

Example: “Toronto Greeters” offers an array of energetic and knowledgeable, volunteer Torontonians, who will show their favourite parts of the city to visitors. Residents speak over 180 languages and Toronto’s City motto is “Diversity Our Strength”. Toronto Greeters offers a variety of languages to visitors as well.

Social Media Superstars

Every community is filled with local experts. Reach out to a local photographer, foodie, chef, artist, writer, historian, fashionista – or someone who follows the latest trends in your town/city. Their expertise supports your destination’s strengths and offers a personal approach. Invite them to highlight your location on their blog and social media platforms. In doing so, you build a toolkit that promotes the assets within your community. These local experts offer authenticity and a unique perspective to your destination marketing as they promote their passion.

Dedicated Hashtags Work Best

As many towns/cities already have a dedicated Hashtag for their social media accounts, utilize this by introducing it to those Social Media Superstars you now have in place. As your DMO helps build your marketing team, you can tie together the efforts of all involved by utilizing a dedicated hashtag. Originally hashtags were used to tie threads together on Twitter, but they are now used on virtually all social media. Select a short, memorable phrase to represent your city or brand – as well as commonly used, relevant terms: #ExplorePortColborne, #HamOnt, #ItsAllWellandGood, #ShopLocal, #tourism, #vacaforaday.

Encourage restaurants, shops/services, museums and other attractions, as well as locals to utilize your hashtag. Using hashtags increases overall exposure and assists in promoting events and other posts you wish the public to see. Hashtags can also be used in traditional media along with you destination’s URL. Use your hashtag on printed material such as visitor guides, rack cards and even magazine ads.

Good use of hashtags draws people to your social media accounts; be sure to include it in all marketing campaigns. If used frequently enough, it may ‘trend’ making your destination a top find! A nice incentive to acknowledge the shared use of the hashtag is an online mention, repost or post of the week badge. You can even go further by creating hashtag swag. A good hashtag can make a great t-shirt!

Don’t be discouraged if your hashtag doesn’t go viral overnight. Like any other team building exercise, branding and continuing to market your unique hashtag, takes practice and a combined effort. Local ambassadors, Social Media Superstars and your very own Destination Marketing Specialist can help create an upswing in numbers that town/city staff wouldn’t accomplish on their own.

Pro Tip: Growing your team of ambassadors to assist you in spreading the word is a winning strategy. These tips are designed to help you put a plan of action in place and begin utilizing your locals. Formal certification programs, annual symposiums, strategically placed community volunteers, Social Media Superstars, and other content creators; locals can add a little extra hustle in your marketing game.