Top Tourism Campaigns of 2021

Happy 2022! At BTI, we typically end our year with a round-up of the top tourism campaigns of the year. Reviewing those destinations and hospitality businesses going above and beyond to share their creative approaches to visitor attraction. This year, we flipped that on its head and decided to kick off the new year with our annual round-up blog of the top tourism campaigns of 2021 instead. New year, new ideas.

Top tourism campaigns of 2021

Here are our five favorites, standing out over the last 12 months in another challenging year:

#1 Visit Iceland: Icelandverse

There shouldn’t be any surprise about our first “Top Tourism Campaign” of the year. Mark Zuckerberg made national news with Facebook’s name change to Meta in 2021 and the unveiling of his virtual Metaverse. Riding quickly on the coattails of the announcement, Visit Iceland news-jacked the story with their own version – the “Icelandverse.”

Featuring a Zuckerberg lookalike as the host, the “Icelandverse” shares “how to connect our world without being super weird,” which pretty much sums up public reaction to the Metaverse and accompanying video. It talks about the lights you can see, waterfalls you can visit (for real) and horses you can ride … with real hair you can touch. While striking a sarcastic tone and poking fun at the virtual world – it also does a nice job reminding us that nothing can truly replace reality. Travel offers the chance to have real, meaningful and memorable experiences.

#2 Visit Scotland: Yours to Enjoy – Responsibly

We’ve seen a shift in tourism marketing over the last several years from some of the most popular travel destinations. Even as visitation has slowed due to COVID, many are still struggling with the effects of overtourism on their wildlife, natural resources and within their communities.

In inviting travelers back, Visit Scotland’s 2021 campaign strikes a delicate balance – a welcome and a request to travel responsibly. Stunning drone and nature footage are set against messages of conservation and sustainable tourism with peaceful background music. The video does a nice job of demonstrating what responsible travel looks like (e.g. “take only pictures and leave only footprints”) and the impact it can have, while still making visitors feel like this is the Scotland of their dreams.

#3 Visit Israel: Welcome Back to Israel!

The pandemic remains a huge topic of conversation in the global travel sphere – and destinations would be remiss if they didn’t address health and safety in their tourism campaigns in 2021. Visit Israel’s newest campaign “Welcome Back to Israel!” brings the topic to the forefront of their message to travelers – while still making the destination sound open, active, and full of fun.

The video calls attention to Israel’s “new landmark” as one of the most vaccinated countries on the planet. It highlights masks, green (vaccinated) passports and sanitization methods, while also showing off the local beaches, historical landmarks, cuisine and shopping. By employing upbeat music and a charismatic host, the campaign plays like a special on the travel channel. It’s easy to forget you are watching a piece of brilliant marketing, while imagining yourself lounging with a drink in hand.

#4 Airbnb: Made Possible by Hosts

Pet travel is poised to be one of the major travel trends of 2022. Airbnb saw the signs and hopped on the bandwagon early. Unveiling a series of commercials set to familiar songs (like Dolly Parton’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You” or “Wild Thing” by The Troggs) and featuring real trips, the brand showcased some of its gracious hosts and unique properties – and the two- and four-legged guests who came to enjoy them.

The videos are masterfully done in the sense that they aren’t overly produced – in fact, they feel more like going through vacation photos with a good friend. The slow pace reminds travelers that pets are travel partners as well as at-home companions and that Airbnb hosts are more than willing to accommodate. The cute kitty in one video and adorable golden retriever featured in another doesn’t hurt the brand’s cause either.

See the full “Made Possible by Hosts” series in this playlist:

#5 Visit Sweden: Discover the Originals

It seems that Sweden has a bit of a branding problem when it comes to the names of its towns, lakes, mountains and communities. The problem being that Ikea has commandeered them and assigned these names to some less desirable products – everything from a gaming chair to a toilet brush. In the digital age, this causes a true SEO nightmare – and quite the conundrum for a destination trying to stand out among the conveniently priced furniture.

In Visit Sweden’s 2021 campaign, they encourage travelers to “Discover the Originals” and go beyond the Ikea names to learn more about the country that they came from. While the video is masterfully done, the destination goes beyond a one-minute spot with a companion website and map that breaks down the name (“Stubbarp – more than IKEA cabinet legs”) and then shares the special meaning behind each place in a tongue-in-cheek way (“If you’re happy to use your own legs to explore…”). Not only does it bring attention to the destination in a hilarious way, but it also truly makes you want to explore each and every stop on the map firsthand.

See Sweden’s “Discover the Originals” website and start shopping for a Sweden getaway.

These are the top tourism campaigns of 2021, now go back in time for more inspiration! Check out our Top Tourism Campaign round ups from 2018-2020 and our blog where we break down the elements of a Top Campaign:

Top Travel Campaigns of 2020: Tourism Marketers Get Creative in the Face of Adversity

The 5 Top Tourism Campaigns of 2019

2018’s Best Tourism Campaigns: Our Five Favorites

Elements of Top Tourism Campaigns


Sarah Martin

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