Tourism has been a significant contributor to the economies of the Mediterranean countries for decades. It currently represents 6.4% of Greece’s and 5.7% of Cyprus’s GDP.
A number of factors, mainly the ongoing financial crisis and intense competition from newcomers to the global tourism industry, make the coming years a critical period, as it is important for both Greece and Cyprus to remain resourceful and in the spotlight.
Destination Marketing has always been a challenging discipline, one where strategy and creativity are of critical importance. There have been a number of excellent campaigns over the last few years, while advertisers and communication consultants have in some cases even proposed extreme actions by countries and regions! New Zealand was the recipient of such a proposal: change the country’s name and flag, in order to make it more exotic as a destination! Last time I checked, they still haven’t adopted this!
The Web and specifically Social Media are transforming the way countries and regions are marketed. Gone are the times when TV would attract the largest part of a National Tourist Bureau’s budget. Also, the high cost of running Tourist offices in other countries and participating in exhibitions has stimulated the demand for a cost-effective platform.
Social Media are increasingly gaining the attention of Marketeers: they are effective and produce results that can be tracked and acted upon. Travel and vacations are inherently social functions. Prior to the advent of Social Media, friends would discuss and exchange views offline.
Apparently, research data shows that 60% of Europeans are influenced in the selection of holiday destinations, by comments, posts, suggestions that they read on Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
In the case of Facebook, approximately two out of three users globally (in actual numbers, this translates to 700 million people), post pictures and discuss their holidays, while 50% admit that they are influenced by friend’s suggestions and comments, when it comes to picking a holiday destination.
It is also worth mentioning that research indicates that by 2016, social media will be a primary way to generate travel bookings and revenue for half of the travel industry.
Where do the above data leave Mediterranean countries as well as other aspiring tourist destinations?
Social Media should be placed at the center of the Promotional Strategy, as the return on investment will be much higher than any other Medium. Print Media and TV should be used as supportive Media and no more than 30% of the annual budget should be allocated to them.
There are a number of successful case studies of National Tourism organizations and their Social Media campaigns. Two of them are worth mentioning.
First, Tourism Australia’s Facebook fan page has 3.4 million fans already, with 200,000 of then engaging and talking about Australia as a tourist destination every week!
Visit Britain’s Facebook campaign brought a staggering 42,000 new fans to their Facebook page in one day!
Keeping in mind the tremendous growth in people engaging with Facebook and Twitter around the world, which is 1.1 billion and more than 600 million, respectively, makes them the most important Social Media platforms for Greece and Cyprus, for the years to come.
So, time is precious. Engage and Tweet to get more tourists talking and eventually visiting these beautiful countries!