13 brilliant tourism campaigns reminding us to 'dream now, visit later'

Abu Dhabi joins Canada, the Maldives, Kenya, Norway and the UK in inspiring hope, change and future adventures

Travel may be paused around the world, but that doesn't mean destinations have had to go dark. Here are the places getting it right when it comes to tourism campaigns during the Covid-19 pandemic. Courtesy Visit Canada
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Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism posted a video tribute to the emirate last week to inspire people to embrace the opportunity to pause for a moment as the UAE fights back against the coronavirus outbreak.

“The world is quieter now”, begins the video before launching into a series of images showing the beauty of the capital. It ends by telling viewers that things will revert to normal soon, and that Abu Dhabi will be waiting for visitors with open arms when that happens.

Abu Dhabi isn’t the only destination where tourism authorities have stepped up to tackle the tough situation the industry now faces. While some countries have chosen to go quiet now that travel is at a standstill, others have embraced the uncertainty as a way to convey important advice, uplift spirits and inspire future adventures. Here are the places where tourism is currently doing things right.

Mexico: ‘We are the greatest coincidence’

"We are the greatest coincidence, the greatest casualty," begins Visit Mexico's Love You Soon video on something of a sombre note. Perhaps it's no coincidence that a country that has been plagued by border problems for the past four years goes on to urge travellers that right now "we need to see each other as one." It ends on an uplifting smorgasbord of scenes filmed across Mexico and the message that we will all celebrate together when the coronavirus pandemic is over.

Portugal: #Cantskiphope

Visit Portugal’s emotional Instagram campaign stresses the need for social isolation at this time. Opening with a disclaimer that footage was captured when you “were allowed to spend time outside,” it portrays breathtaking images from across the country. The accompanying soundtrack tells viewers “to take a break for the world,” and to “think of everyone and meet no one”.

UK: ‘Bringing Britain to you’

While many have questioned the UK’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, the same can’t be said for the team at Visit Britain, who have come up with a host of savvy social media posts designed to “bring a bit of Britain to you”. From sharing traditional British recipes, settling arguments over the pronunciation of “scone” and putting together a Spotify playlist of iconic British tunes, it’s informative and entertaining.

Saint Lucia: ‘7 minutes of island life’

Fancy seven minutes in the Caribbean? That's what the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority is offering via Instagram live. Aired twice a week, the miniseries started with a seven-minute yoga session under the shadow of the volcanic Piton spires. Island vibes will come courtesy of Caribbean cookery classes, beach meditation and SocaFit classes. For podcast fans, there’s also a new five-part armchair guide to the island, ideal for anyone dreaming of Saint Lucia during self-isolation.

South Africa: ‘Don’t travel now, so you can tomorrow’

With the country under strict lockdown, South Africa tourism is discouraging people from travelling anywhere through a series of Instagram videos. Depicting scenes of isolation – empty streets, quiet roads and deserted buildings – the informative video reminds travellers of the importance of staying home, explaining it’s “humanity taking a stand”.

Kenya: ‘The magic awaits’

It’s all about the magic of travel in Kenya, where tourism authorities have created a YouTube and Instagram campaign that uses intriguing images of the country, its peoples and its animals to remind travellers that all these things will be waiting for them when the pandemic passes. Despite a slightly irritating voice-over on the video, the words get the message across that travellers need to stay home today if they want to enjoy the “adventure of a lifetime” tomorrow.

Norway: ‘Dream now, visit later’

“Sorry, but the country is closed for all but necessary travel for the moment,” announces the Visit Norway website. “Meanwhile, feel free to dream about all the things you can do when we open again,” it says. Inspiring travellers to recreate Norwegian experience from the comfort of their homes, the site recommends Nordic-inspired Netflix binges, has instructions on how to recreate a log cabin vibe in your living room and recipes for traditional Norwegian kos (waffles). It’s also crowdsourcing by asking travellers to share their memories of time spent in Norway.

Canada: ‘Sent with love’

Simple and to the point, Canada’s Glowing Hearts campaign sends love out into the world during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. “Every day, our job is to share our love of Canada. Yet today, we should be staying at home,” reads the Instagram caption. The campaign also depicts stunning images of the country’s nature-laden landscapes, designed to give would-be travellers “small moments of escape”.

Austria: A virtual adventure

Despite travel being off the menu, you can still walk into the world’s largest ice cave, take a virtual dip in Austria’s Lake Worthersee or tour the grand Habsburg estate and Baroque gardens at Schloss Hof Castle. That’s because Austrian tourism authorities have rounded up all the best ways to virtually explore the country – including listening to classical music streamed live from Vienna State Opera every week.

Maldives: ‘Do it later’

Pristine beaches, fresh king coconuts and impossibly blue waters, the Visit Maldives Instagram campaign continues to do what it has always done and post paradisiacal, make-you-want-to-go-there images. But this time they’re accompanied by one important word – later. For this island nation in the Indian Ocean, the time to beach, surf, chill and dive is in the future.

Panama: ‘Together we can’

Panama’s latest tourism creation on YouTube is a nostalgia-tinged video that works a lot better in Spanish than it does in English, but still gets the message across. Monochromatic footage reminds people to stay home and take care of the nature around them, before bursts of blue oceans, lush green jungles and Panamanian parties remind travellers that as long as we all stick together, we’ll get through this to return to Panama in the future.

Switzerland: ‘Stay safe, stay home’

Visit Switzerland’s homepage has been transformed into an animated 3D montage of footage filmed across the country. The interactive functions give travellers the chance to explore Switzerland’s different regions at various times of the year. You can soar over Lucerne’s bridges, explore waterfalls in Brienz and listen to the cowbells ringing in Emmental. There’s also a heart-warming short video on YouTube that tells travellers to stay safe by staying home.