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The global pandemic has had a profound impact on many aspects of our lives, including the way we travel and think about tourism.

In particular, the pandemic has caused a major shift in the way we perceive and approach destination marketing. Before the pandemic, many destinations were focused on attracting as many tourists as possible, often without considering the negative impacts of overcrowding and overtourism.

However, the pandemic has forced many destinations to rethink their approach and prioritize responsible tourism that balances the needs of tourists with the needs of locals and the environment.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how the pandemic has changed our perception of destination marketing and what this means for the future of tourism. We’ll examine how destinations are adapting their marketing strategies to prioritize sustainable tourism, support local communities, and ensure that tourism benefits everyone involved. Let’s dive in!

Shift towards more authentic, community-focused experiences

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of responsible and sustainable tourism, and has forced many destinations to rethink their marketing strategies. As a result, we are seeing a shift towards more authentic, community-focused experiences that prioritize the well-being of locals and the environment.

One of the key changes we are seeing is a focus on supporting local businesses and communities. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on small businesses and local economies, and many destinations are now realizing the importance of supporting these businesses as part of their tourism strategy. This includes promoting locally-owned hotels, restaurants, and shops, as well as showcasing the unique cultural and historical heritage of the destination.

Focus on sustainability and responsible tourism

Another important trend is an increased focus on sustainability and responsible tourism. The pandemic has provided an opportunity for destinations to rethink their impact on the environment and to implement more sustainable practices. This includes things like, reducing the use of single-use plastics, promoting eco-friendly transportation options, and working with local organizations to protect natural habitats and wildlife.

But this also includes mitigating the strain of too many tourists on cities and neighborhoods. While tourism can be a major economic driver and source of revenue for a city, there are also potential negative consequences associated with excessive tourism, such as overcrowding, strain on infrastructure and resources, environmental degradation, and negative impacts on local culture and quality of life for residents.

It is important to manage tourism responsibly and balance the needs of tourists with the needs of the local community and environment. And the pandemic has made that painfully clear, when tourists stayed away and finally local residents of the world’s best visited cities reclaimed their neighborhoods.

By prioritizing responsible and sustainable tourism, destinations can create more authentic and rewarding experiences for both tourists and locals, while also ensuring the long-term viability of their tourism industry.

Measures now intensified by Amsterdam

Cities like Amsterdam and New York are taking various measures to tackle overcrowding by tourists.

In Amsterdam, the city government has implemented a range of measures to manage tourism, including:

  1. Restricting short-term rentals: The city has introduced strict regulations on short-term rentals such as Airbnb to reduce the number of tourists staying in residential areas.
  2. Promoting alternative destinations: The city has been promoting lesser-known neighborhoods and attractions to encourage tourists to visit areas outside the city center.
  3. Encouraging sustainable transportation: The city is promoting cycling and walking as a more sustainable mode of transportation, and has been investing in bike-friendly infrastructure.
  4. Limiting large tourist groups: The city has restricted large tourist groups from certain areas in the city to reduce overcrowding.

And in a recent attempt it has now started a “Stay Away from Amsterdam” campaign. Visitors who want to visit Amsterdam to ‘go wild’ and search online with various search terms  such as ‘stag party Amsterdam’, ‘cheap hotel Amsterdam’ and ‘pub crawl Amsterdam’, will be shown warning advertisements.

Campagnevideo Stay Away versie 1 from Gemeente Amsterdam on Vimeo.

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Measures now implemented by New York City

In New York, the city has also implemented various measures to manage tourism, including:

  1. Promoting off-season travel: The city has been promoting travel during the off-season to reduce overcrowding during peak tourism periods.
  2. Managing tourist hotspots: The city has implemented measures to manage overcrowding at popular tourist attractions such as the Statue of Liberty and Times Square.
  3. Encouraging sustainable transportation: The city has been promoting public transportation, cycling, and walking as more sustainable alternatives to driving.
  4. Investing in new tourism destinations: The city has been investing in developing new tourism destinations outside of Manhattan to spread tourism across the city.

Both are taking a proactive approach to managing tourism and are implementing measures to ensure that the negative impacts of tourism are minimized, while at the same time the benefits of tourism are maximized for both visitors and locals.

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More focus on resilience

When a city becomes too reliant on tourism alone, it can also make the local economy vulnerable to fluctuations in tourism demand, and potentially harm other industries that are important for the city’s overall economic health.

During the pandemic all tourism related activity came to a standstill. While local tourism still flourished at times, destinations that relied on international tourism were struggling. This was an important wake-up call for city leaders and destination marketers to prioritize more sustainable tourism practices and focus on a more resilient local economy. An economy that is not singularly reliant on tourists.

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A wake-up call

Overall, the pandemic has been a wake-up call. Destinations are now prioritizing sustainable and responsible tourism in their marketing strategies. By doing so, they are able to create a more authentic and meaningful experience for visitors, while also supporting local communities and protecting the environment for future generations. Including more resilient strategies in their marketing approach would also make destinations depending less on (international) tourism for their local economy.

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