A couple of weeks ago as Europe and the rest of the world slowly started reopening borders I came across a lot of articles like “The Safest Destinations to Visit This Summer” – seriously? Is this Tourism Marketing in 2020? Don’t we have anything valuable left to attract tourists with but how many hospital beds we have and how low our numbers are for the novel Coronavirus?
From a purely scientific point of view, those articles make zero sense, because we are in the middle of the pandemic! The virus hasn’t gone anywhere and will not disappear unless the whole world is vaccinated. So, how did the marketing experts come to a conclusion of what destinations are safe, and which are not? What happens if I get infected while travelling to the safest destinations, reported by Forbes? – I will feel tricked. Why is not Italy safe enough? – Because Italy struggled a lot during March and April? – But this period has passed already and if you write an article about Greece being safe, I bet scientifically Italy could be safer for now, due to higher possibility of herd immunity. What is the science behind those conclusions? And the major question while travelling in 2020 – what does safety mean in the middle of the pandemic? I suppose we can make conclusions about the safety, the success or the failure of some countries once the crisis is over, the virus is gone and we are all back to “normal” lives.
From a travel content creator’s point of view, I would have never imagined that some countries and some major magazines would use the coronavirus lockdown in such a cheap way to promote tourism. Here are some examples that made me really disappointed while reading the Forbes article about the Post-Corona Travel Plan.
I genuinely would like to know why the authors of this article decided to highlight the number of hospital beds in the post. What do hospital beds numbers have to do with tourism? Have you ever asked yourself before your trip to Barcelona “let’s see how many hospital beds does Spain have?” This, my friends, is called marketing failure.
Another reason why the Safest Destinations list makes no sense is that whilst being in the middle of the pandemic, the cases and numbers can change anytime. As an example we can take Portugal, which was applauded in the article by its low coronavirus cases, but today Lisbon got another lockdown due to the recently increased Covid-19 cases. As a marketeer, I do believe that dissing others while trying to highlight your own good is the cheapest way of promotion. Look at Denmark, they do not need to bite their neighbour countries in order to promote sustainable tourism on their own. Do you know what their secret is? The secret is there is no secret. Either you are doing a good job to keep your sustainable development, or you are trying to take advantage of someone else’s failures during the crisis.
With all due respect to Croatia, Georgia, Greece and a lot of other countries mentioned in the article. Sentences like “Croatia has been rather preserved by coronavirus with up to 20 times fewer infected people than in any other European country. Well-equipped in healthcare, it also has more hospital beds per inhabitant than most European countries.” still drive me crazy. If the authors try to connect healthcare system and tourism, then the outsider countries from the blog post deserve to be highlighted the most, as Italy tops the world in the healthcare system. To wrap it up, there is nothing wrong with mentioning how low some countries kept their numbers during the outbreak (so far), and to applaud the healthcare workers, but I do believe that this is a global crisis and everyone deserves to be applauded equally. We should support each other and I do not see any reason to claim Italy, France, Spain, or Sweden didn’t deal with the Coronavirus well. The process is on-going and no one is sure about the final outcome until we are out of the crisis. Last but not least, to answer the question of my headline, why blog posts like “safest destinations” should not exist, is because there is no scientific research that can assure that some places are safer than others during the pandemic.
If we want to take our tourism game to the next level, the future of sustainable tourism is honesty, eco-friendliness, and human rights. Interest us with your scenery and food culture, that counts centuries, but also show us what you have achieved in the 21st century in terms of women’s rights, racism, labour rights, climate change, equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and the list can continue on and on. Tell us what kind of new information we will bring with us from your country other than low Coronavirus numbers.
Do you remember in the beginning of the lockdown when Netflix officially promoted its main rival by telling the followers to check out cool tv series on HBO, because these are really hard times that we are living in right now? That is real Marketing. Netflix has not lost a single user because of that announcement. Because Netflix has its own exclusives that can’t be found anywhere else, and that’s exactly what every destination has, some just need to work harder to improve and highlight their features.
To give you another hint on what is going to be the millennials’ priority in not only tourism but in every business, just watch The Politician on Netflix and focus more on season two.