Aligning Visitor Activities with Resident Needs

The objective of this campaign was to showcase that despite the fragility of the region, visitors can still have authentic, high-quality experiences.

The objective of this campaign was to showcase that despite the fragility of the region, visitors can still have authentic, high-quality experiences and be welcomed by residents with open arms.

The objective of this campaign was to showcase that despite the fragility of the region, visitors can still have authentic, high-quality experiences and be welcomed by residents with open arms.

Located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec, Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine champions the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, safeguarding the delicate archipelago and fostering responsible tourism. Their campaign, "Aux Îles, je m'engage /  I Care for Les Îles" proved its innovative spirit, capturing hearts with six silent comedy videos, reminiscent of early 1900s cinema. The public rallied behind the playful campaign, with Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine winning the People's Choice Award at the DTTT’s 2023 X. Awards; a testament to their community spirit.

Pledges for Responsible Tourism

The Aux Îles, je m'engage / I Care for Les Îles initiative aims to reduce the negative impact of tourism on the environment, whilst also encouraging a slower pace of life to follow the archipelago’s pace. The objective of this campaign was to showcase that despite the fragility of the region, visitors can still have authentic, high-quality experiences and be welcomed by residents with open arms.

Six pledges were drafted after several meetings with locals and other destination stakeholders, with strong alignment to Îles de la Madeleine’s 2021-2026 tourism strategy. The six statements are:

  1. I care for Les Îles by respecting the fauna, the flora and the environment 
  2. I care for Les Îles by choosing to live to the rhythm of the archipelago  
  3. I care for Les Îles by properly disposing of my garbage  
  4. I care for Les Îles by committing to the responsible use of drinking water and energy  
  5. I care for Les Îles by using the designated parking and camping areas  
  6. I care for Les Îles by following safety guidelines when on the water and near cliff edges

These carefully developed pledges resonated with both visitors and residents. Locals supported the commitment as they were incentivised by the aspiration of the pledges to bring positive change to the destination and encourage responsible tourism, acting as a source of civic pride in sharing these positive messages about the sustainability of the destination. Meanwhile, travellers benefit from seeing a different side of the destination and engaging in slow travel and more authentic visitor experiences, helping to build better relationships with locals. This sets a great example for other DMOs on how they can engage locals to help create strategies for supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.

To keep the message consistent, Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine's website features resources with tips to increase the positive impact of a trip to the archipelago, such as how to save energy, preserve the environment, use sustainable transport modes and find eco-certified accommodation. We at the DTTT are big admirers of the commitment displayed to encouraging responsible tourism by Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine.

Original Video Campaigns

Uniting a diverse ensemble of stakeholders under one powerful banner of sustainable tourism, the campaign showed the power of communities working together, from residents to government officials, to achieve shared objectives. Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine communicated their message through a dynamic outlook on video creation. Using comedy and ingenuity, they created six short-form videos combining French and English, drawing inspiration from the 1920s silent comedic films. This made the content easily digestible for a diverse group of ages and made the content more engaging than traditional informational campaigns.

The campaign reached local media and influencers who were inspired by the positive message, confirming not only the importance of committing to the destination but also making content shareable, through social media or local articles.

The campaign exceeded expectations, captivating over 31,000 unique visitors; more than double the population of the Magdalen Islands. Between June and November 2023, the campaign utilised social media to deliver its message of responsible exploration to more than 565,000 potential travellers. Google Ads delivered the message to Les Îles' annual 65,000 visitors with over 1.2 million impressions and 8,000 clicks. Exit surveys revealed that two-thirds of visitors had encountered the campaign and a separate survey revealed a resounding 79% approval rating among residents.

The numbers speak volumes; nearly 1,900 people have already pledged their commitment to preserving their home's beauty, surpassing the initial first-year goal of 500. "Aux Îles, je m'engage" isn't just a campaign, it's a harmonious movement, engrained in the local spirit of the Magdalen Islands, ensuring that its future encompasses responsible tourism for generations to come.

This isn't the first campaign of its kind to use comedy, satire and sarcasm, which can all be compelling and engaging techniques to captivate attention. These our some of our favourite examples in recent years:

  • Tourism New Zealand: Travelling under the social influence - This satirical campaign plays on New Zealand's reputation for being laid-back and peaceful, showcasing its stunning landscapes in a deadpan manner, encouraging visitors to explore beyond the popular Instagrammable locations.
  • Visit Finland: Rent a Finn - This video uses an unusual concept of renting a Finnish person to explore the destination, which is a funny twist on the ordinary tour guide, combining comedy with authenticity to make a compelling campaign.
  • Visit Iceland: Introducing the Icelandverse - This campaign took inspiration from the original introduction to Mark Zuckerberg announcing Meta but twisted it into a spoof-esc video showcasing what Iceland has to offer.

Standing out as a smaller destination

Making noise as a smaller destination can be tricky, especially when wrestling with sustainability battles like over-tourism and habitat protection. The Magdalen Islands hosts a population of approximately 13,000, so when it comes to making a successful marketing campaign, the goal is not simply virality but also to spread awareness of travelling sustainably. Similarly, there are other examples of smaller, sparsely populated destinations that go through the same issues in encouraging tourism responsibly:

  • Visit Norway: Increasing Value Creation - Instead of focusing on visitor numbers, the national strategy focuses on catering towards the interests of visitors who are willing to pay for unique experiences, spend more and stay longer.
  • Visit Faroe Islands - Boasting a small population of under 60,000, the DMO has to consider the well-being of the land whilst encouraging tourism throughout the year. One of their major ongoing campaigns is 'Closed for Maintenance', where visitors volunteer to preserve the island and help maintain the infrastructure. This campaign has been effectively leveraged as a PR campaign.
  • Destination Uppsala - Leveraging social media to thrive as a smaller destination,  Destination Uppsala rethought its social media strategy and is constantly evolving to appeal to visitors in neighbouring cities whilst building a rapport with its future visitors.

Key Takeaways

  • Use relatability in your campaigns: Ditch tired tropes and tap into familiar trends, memes or cultural references. It creates an instant connection with viewers, making your message resonate deeper and increasing the likelihood of going viral.
  • Incorporate Residents and Visitors: When residents and tourists join forces, a powerful synergy emerges. Locals share their passion and knowledge, enriching visitor experiences and visitors lend fresh perspectives and helping hands, tackling environmental challenges together, creating a stronger community and a more resilient destination.
  • Publish your goals: Have a clear strategy formulated through participatory processes and make your goals tangible. Exude creativity to transform targets into engaging campaigns that capture attention and reach travellers who desire to engage in responsible tourism.
  • Target responsible travellers: High-value travellers aren't just visitors, they're potential advocates. Encourage them to become champions of your responsible tourism efforts and make them feel like partners, not just visitors by guiding visitors to travel at a slower pace and fully explore.
Published on:
January 2024
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