Over the past decade, many tourism authorities have been swearing by social media influencers. But in a new campaign, Tourism New Zealand is taking a new tack. The authority’s newest campaign is not only fun but also gives food for thought.
Meet squad leader Tom Sainsbury. In a video, viewers will see the jovial chubby man totally exhausted after climbing up a steep hill. Sainsbury is a famous actor in New Zealand and he has been tasked with an important mission: stopping Instagram and other social media influencers from taking the same picture over and over again.
On the top of the hill, myriads of visitors pose, stretching their arms as if they would start flying: what Sainsbury calls the “Summit Spreadeagle”. The actor stops the couple short of taking the picture with a simple message: “This summer, we’re clamping down on anyone travelling under the social influence.”
Escorting the couple to a farming area, Sainsbury then adds: “consider this a warning… don’t forget to share something new.”
The witty campaign is part of an effort by Tourism New Zealand to get visitors exploring further afield and not concentrating only on the most popular attractions. The series of videos is part of a domestic tourism campaign as New Zealand is closed to foreign travellers, Australia excepted. In 2019, the country had received close to 3.9 million overseas travellers.
“Do Something New, New Zealand” hopes to limit “travelling under the social influence” as New Zealand has been exhausted by cliché travel photos constantly shared on social media. The campaign can be considered a bold move in questioning if social influencers are truly the benchmark they have been taken for in promoting tourism.
Some observers might judge the campaign insensitive or irreverent, especially in times of Covid-19. However, the it also gives food for thought. Rapid development of tourism in recent years has taken its toll on the evolution of many tourism destinations. Travelling before the pandemic had, for many, turned into a commodity — a pure object of consumption. Overtourism has since disappeared, but it could also be back rapidly.
Time to educate influencers to reconsider their vision of tourism?
The New Zealand campaign is indeed a step to put tourists back on a more sustainable, respectful path for travelling. Experiencing New Zealand is not just taking a picture at a famous iconic site to share with one’s community. It is above all an experience and a way to learn something new… with fun.
In a statement for local NZ media, Bjoern Spreitzer, domestic general manager at Tourism New Zealand explained that “Tourism New Zealand had noticed that people were posting similar photos time and time again, and we wanted to leverage and use Kiwi humour to encourage people to try new experiences across our country.”
This comes as research by Tourism New Zealand on the domestic market highlights that locals know what makes their country so special. The survey shows that they are seeking what makes it unique. History, culture, hidden gems, community and personal relation stand behind NZ travellers’ requirements.
Educating tourists to open their eyes and be curious can thus start in the best way with the domestic market which already has a better knowledge of the country. It will run parallel to New Zealand’s newest global campaign. With the slogan “Where one journey leads to another”, the campaign delves deeper into New Zealand’s unique visitor experience and explores journeys enriched by local people, places and experiences, showcasing the possible adventures in easily recognised and less familiar landscapes where there is even more awaiting discovery.