Destination BC invites international tourists to find themselves in beauty of the land

Who: Destination BC with Indigenous Tourism BC, 123W for creative and strategy, Wasserman for traditional media, and Noise for digital media.

What: “Find Yourself,” a campaign running in key global markets in an effort to revive the international tourism that has been hit hard during the pandemic.

When & Where: Destination BC is spending $6.7 million on media for the campaign, which launched last week across TV, online video, print and digital, targeting potential visitors from the U.K., Australia, California and Washington, as well as Ontario.

Why—the market: Bringing back international travellers is essential to the recovery of BC’s tourism industry. “Pre-Covid, international travellers represented approximately 25% of visitor volume to BC, but represented approximately 50% of visitor expenditures,” said Destination BC in a release introducing the campaign. “In comparison, B.C. residents accounted for 50% of visitation, and 25% of visitor expenditures.”

Why—the theme: In 2019, Destination BC introduced “The BC Effect” as a brand platform emphasizing that time spent outdoors in the province could led to improved well-being, and reduce stress. Since then, the global pandemic was well… not great for stress levels, and the country has also faced a reckoning with centuries of abuse and mistreatment of its Indigenous peoples. This campaign seems inspired by both.

The tourism marketer has not only retained that BC Effect positioning, but has leaned into it even more by partnering with Indigenous Tourism BC. “The campaign was actually co-developed with Indigenous Tourism BC, and delves deeply into BC’s healing effects through a lens of connection [and] reciprocity, a perspective provided to the Destination BC team through the partnership with the team at Indigenous Tourism BC,” said Maya Lange, vice-president of global marketing, Destination BC.

The campaign effectively invites travellers to experience BC the way its Indigenous peoples experience and treasure it, with values of interconnectedness, gratitude and stewardship. “When we truly respect and open ourselves to nature, nature will open to us—and in turn, change us for the better,” said Lange.

How: A series of videos featuring Indigenous storytellers will be released in the months ahead, beginning with a nearly two-minute long spot featuring a montage of some of the province’s most stunning destinations and landscapes, along with a poem by Haida writer Cohen Isberg that is delivered in the spot by Justin Rain of the Zagime Anishinabek Nation.

“Find yourself here,” says Rain to open the ad. “For we are connected. In these moments we will find ourselves again through these places where we have been. We will be in awe, not of their beauty, but of ourselves that we can feel so deeply.”

“Utilizing poetry as our narrative method allows for a more emotive, engaging message that not only is inclusive of the Indigenous perspective, but truly brings the transformative experience to life,” said Lange.

A landing page for the campaign asks visitors to “explore not just new sights, but new sides of yourself.” The site includes travel ideas like how to wake up in nature, and get to know the wildlife, visiting wineries, breweries and golfing. There is also blog-style content about finding the BC effect to “inspire purpose and connection.”

And we quote: “International visitors are an important market for many Indigenous tourism operators in BC. As the world reopens for global travel, Indigenous Tourism BC is excited to work with Destination BC on ‘The BC Effect: Find Yourself.’ The teams are collaborating in innovative ways on this campaign for international and domestic visitors to support a strong recovery for tourism in BC that integrates Indigenous identity and values.” — Paula Amos, chief marketing and development officer, Indigenous Tourism BC.

David Brown