Elements of Top Tourism Campaigns

You know them when you see them. Standout tourism campaigns can be big and flashy, or subtle but powerful – or some combination of these traits. But even before the results are revealed, it seems like there is something special about them. For the past four years, we’ve covered the top campaigns of the year that caught our attention. Now, we’re going to take a closer look at their makeup to see what emotional elements they have in common.

Elements of Top Tourism Campaigns

Go big or go home attitude

You’re guaranteed to turn heads when you ask “how big can we go with this?” in a brainstorming session. When destinations and attractions decide to maximize their ideas and take it all the way to launch – it’s a make-or-break campaign. These four top tourism campaigns from 2017 and 2018 went over-the-top:

  • Helsinki Airport Presents #LIFEINHEL (2017). When the airport was voted best in the world, it ran with the concept and documented a 30-day stay in the airport by Chinese actor and TV personality Ryan Zhu. In this case, going big meant taking one small idea (receiving an award) and building on it to the point of the extreme, and it’s extremely entertaining.
  • Visit Oslo Rescues Couple from Doomed Vacation Experience (2017). Visit Oslo whisked a couple away on a more desirable vacation after they complained about the line at the Mona Lisa on Instagram. In addition to making a grand gesture, this campaign has elements of surprise and delight, user-generated content (UGC) and news-jacking.
  • Visit Sweden Lists Entire Country on Airbnb (2017). Sweden decided to focus on their “freedom to roam” principle and the fact that anyone can camp on public land, for free. Right around the time the hospitality industry was figuring out how Airbnb factored into the accommodation landscape, Visit Sweden listed the entire country there. Now that’s a big move.
  • Tourism Australia’s Super Bowl Commercial (2018). What’s bigger than airing your tourism ad during the Super Bowl? That’s what Tourism Australia did, and they made it look like an adventure movie that would premier soon. Bonus points for using celebrities Danny McBride and Chris Hemsworth.

Watch the videos for these campaigns in this Go Big or Go Home playlist:


  • #GetNZonYourMap (2018). New Zealand created a funny series of videos addressing the real problem of the country not appearing on official maps. They brought in world-famous comedian Rhys Darby (a New Zealander) to star in the series and get people thinking of NZ as a desirable destination.
  • OUIGO: 20 Years (2019). The French train system sold its affordable fares as part of a lifestyle for people in their 20s in a funny ad that featured the “unique” ways young people save money while living on their own. It’s funny because it’s relatable!
  • Air Canada: Travel Like a Canadian (2019). Air Canada also brought in a celebrity to promote their airline. In their 2019 ads, the airline had Sandra Oh as a spokesperson, spouting the positive stereotypes of Canada and how they’re part of the airline’s culture.

Watch the videos for these campaigns in this Humor playlist:


You might argue that this is still humor, but tongue-in-cheek is a very special type of funny. It takes something unexpected or seemingly negative and turns it around.

  • Snowbird Ski Resort’s One Star Review (2017). A negative review for this ski resort claimed that it was too challenging. What better way to invite the adventure-seeking skiers in the target audience for this resort than to boast about that fact?
  • Nebraska “Honestly, It’s Not For Everyone” (2018). This imaginative campaign takes the idea of a state that is thought of less for travel, and turns it into a state that is only for a select few. Similar to the Visit California ads at the time, it juxtaposes myths about the state over myth-busting visuals in contrast.
  • Experience Kissimmee, Florida: Vacation to Remember (2020). Now here’s a standout campaign. It’s the only one in our 2020 top tourism campaigns that falls in this category and not the heartfelt category below. Their ad travels to the future to reminisce about their vacation in Kissimmee that was mom’s work-from-vacation spot.


The top tourism campaigns that aim to strike a chord with their audience have serious messages, in a big way.

  • Visit Las Vegas LGBTQ Video (2018). The CVA’s ad follows two people on vacation in Vegas, with a bit of a twist. At the end of their trip, the two women get married. The tourism message is underneath the whole story, but the overarching sentiment is of welcoming and acceptance.
  • Discover Ireland: Fill Your Heart with Ireland (2019). Ireland connected to the hearts of two people – literally, with a heart rate monitor and video camera. The campaign shows off the moments of their video where their hearts were most full.
  • Faroe Islands: Closed for Maintenance (2019). A campaign geared to mitigate the effects of overtourism, the Faroe Islands asked for tourists to take part in voluntourism (visiting and volunteering). On the flip side of overtourism, the Faroe Islands also made our list in 2020 for their Remote Tourism campaign.
  • Visit Portugal: Can’t Skip Hope (2020). Visit Portugal did what many, many destinations did in 2020 and encouraged people to pause travel for the pandemic. This, and the other top tourism campaigns of 2020, stand out as examples in a year filled with these kinds of messages. The important element to remember here is not necessarily the message, but that they stayed top-of-mind even when they couldn’t welcome visitors.

Watch the videos for these campaigns in this Heartfelt playlist:

Of course, we have to give honorable mentions to collaboration and strategy. Top tourism campaigns don’t get off the ground without great minds working together, and doing that work with a solid gameplan. For the original writeups, visit the original posts:

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