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You might not know about the cheesy 1980s marketing pitch for the north-eastern Australia state of Queensland: "Beautiful one day, perfect the next."
While tropical storms and embarrassing politicians might have spoiled this image of perfection, you can't say Queensland's not trying in the tourism game. They've even got an official Facebook page and we actually like it.
It's a lively page with people leaving messages on the "wall" (usually Queenslanders giving a really biased opinion), competitions to enter and useful info on festivals and events taking place around the state. And last time we checked, Queensland was the proud owner of 2,128 fans.
According to this Facebook page, Queensland's current logo is "Where else but Queensland?" A risky marketing strategy because actually, there are plenty of alternative answers to this rhetorical question. We'll be generous enough to leave it unanswered.
Seems Cartagena isn't the only place trying to reinvent its image. The whole of Colombia has been working its "Colombia es Pasión" slogan since 2004, and it's starting to pay dividends with more tourism and foreign investment.
The slogan and associated campaign--which includes licensing a logo to companies as diverse as chicken restaurants and Avianca airlines--cost Colombia just $5 million, a paltry sum in the world of national branding, something that's been a niche industry since 1996.
Simon Anholt, who coined the phrase "national brand," says there's more to the concept than just a snazzy logo and a catch phrase:
Rebranding requires sweeping societal transformations, he says, not just clever public relations. He says South Africa rebranded when it ended apartheid; Ireland when it became a prosperous nation, rather than a mass producer of immigrants; Slovenia when it embraced democracy, joined the European Union and showed that a historically unstable part of Eastern European could be different.
If a country does undertake fundamental changes, marketing can complement them, Mr. Anholt acknowledges.
Which means if tourism is on the rise in Colombia, it's not so much because of a new slogan--but because the country's finally getting back on its feet.
Go to New Zealand, meet a nice girl.
That’s the official message that the New Zealand tourist board is now spreading in Britain with the hope of enticing male British tourists to vacation far from home. There’s a man drought in New Zealand--in the 15-39 age group, there’s just 89 men per 100 women--which is supposed to make British men flock there in droves.
It’s early days just yet, but so far the reaction from British guys hasn’t exactly been a rush to book their London-Auckland flights. Keith, a 28-year-old, for example, says:
It seems an admission of surrender to travel thousands of miles around the world on the off-chance you'll meet your true love there.
All of this seems quite a turnaround from the last New Zealand tourism campaign we remember when they tried to convince us it was a 100 percent pure country. And the crazy thing is that if they just promoted their amazing landscapes we’d be there in a heartbeat.
If you still have any money left after this week on Wall Street, Las Vegas wants you to come out to the desert and spend it. Crazy times call for crazy fun, right?!
The new ad is up on the Vegas tourism board's official YouTube channel, which is also branded with the new "crazy times" slogan.
New Zealand also has a branded YouTube channel, and it's really going after the kids: It's featured video hypes the fact that NZ is "the youngest country on Earth."
One major problem with tourism board websites is that the content on them can be a little thin--and a little cliche. So how is Oregon spicing up its effort to lure travelers to its coastal cities? By having locals and visitors alike submit photos and stories about the great times they've had there.
The coast's new site--at the easy-to-remember URL VisitTheOregonCoast.com--has dozens and dozens of photos from Flickr along with Google Maps, recommendations of stuff to do from real people and extensive listings of places to stay, complete with links to property websites.
True, we could just search Flickr on our own for, say, Yachats, but then we wouldn't learn that it's actually pronounced YAH-hots!
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We thought Orlando's inadvertently raunchy billboard was the greatest travel advertising of the year, but this ad from maverick LCC entrepreneur and washing machine salesman Tony Fernandes has just surged into the lead.
It should come as little surprise that this billboard is in Queensland, Australia, a country known for edgy advertising.
[Photo: Beth Whitman]
The Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association has gussied up its website, adding all sorts of fun web tools. We're particularly big fans of the new videos, including this strangely compelling tour of the city.
Also available are older videos introducing you to Baltimore people like Cal Ripken, Jr. and David Simon, who explains that "The Wire" is a love letter to his hometown:
If you come from DC, you sort of have to admit you're not from a real place. You acknowledge that our food is better, that our beer is colder, that our neighborhoods are worth living in and that this is a city more real than yours. Once you do all that, you know, we're ready to embrace you!
More from Simon after the jump.
Cardiff International Airport is looking to sex up its name. After all, when Liverpool changed its old name ("Speke") to something more flashy ("John Lennon"), it saw a jump in passenger numbers. (Though we've gotta wonder if it's really due to the name--or an expansion finished in 2002 that drew a number of new LCCs.)
High in the running at Cardiff, it seems, is "Gavin & Stacey," after the title of a BBC cult comedy shot in Wales. Other names under consideration are Dame Shirley Bassey, who did three James Bond theme songs, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was born in Swansea, Wales.
But not everyone at the airport thinks slapping a celeb's name on the terminal is a good idea. Says one local:
I would like to see the late Richard Burton or Roald Dahl be considered. I hope they don't succumb to the current celebrity-craved popcorn culture and choose someone like Zeta-Jones or Shirley Bassey.
The Saudi government is pushing to attract more tourists to the country, aiming for 1.5 million a year, not including the Muslim tourists who come on pilgrimage. Three new training colleges will teach the locals to work as tour guides, airport officials and travel agents.
But it's not "tourism at any cost": The government will tell tourists what we can expect (we're waiting to hear) and that includes somewhat restrictive cultural norms. Probably not a destination for a beach vacation but you might get to run up and down a sand dune fully clothed.
A tipster just sent us this snap, taken near McCarran International in Las Vegas. Why advertise one sunny destination in another? The Travel Industry Association's annual conference was on in Nevada, and Orlando didn't want to miss out on the fun.
Oh, and you're not the only one with the dirty mind. Liz Benston at the Las Vegas Sun is right there with you. The ad may work for Orlando, she writes, but it'd never fly in her hometown:
Take the double and potentially negative meaning of "stays with you forever" when applied to a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, for example.
If Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin were alive today, for what cause would they advocate? The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation thinks they'd join gay and lesbian Pennsylvanians in a new promotion called "We Your People," which encourages LGBT travelers to look at the City of Brotherly Love when making those summer travel plans.
The campaign also has help from Southwest Airlines and is timed not-at-all-coincidentally with Gay Pride festivities in many cities. (Philly's Pride Day Parade is June 8.) Local business owners, boutique moguls and even one journalist (Philadelphia Gay News founder Mark Segal) are helping the GPTMC spread the word that Philly is a LGBT-friendly destination.
And the poster children are getting something for their trouble: Campaign spokesman Matthew Izzo reports getting fan mail, site traffic and MySpace and Facebook requests aplenty since getting involved. Since we're feeling the love, too, we've got a video with Izzo right after the click.
Japan is a magical place, really, where grown-ups can love kiddy cartoon characters without being embarrassed. And that's the angle Japan is about to use to promote itself to potential visitors from China and Hong Kong, because like the Japanese, they also love Hello Kitty.
Yep, the cartoon cat has just become an official tourism ambassador. It's all part of the simply-named "Visit Japan" campaign that hopes to increase tourist numbers to 10 million a year from the 8.35 million that visited last year.
It seems a pity, almost, that a country so rich in interesting culture and history resorts to a thirty-something-year-old cartoon kitty to bring in the tourists, but if it works, it works. And we admit we'd be persuaded to return to Japan if we got a free Hello Kitty key chain at passport control.