Guest Article by Antonios Giannopoulos
In Burgundy there are no tourists… the introductory slogan that follows visitors in almost each and every “click” on the website of Burgundy in French is rather appealing. Although there is a general debate over the use of such slogans as promotional tools, this is not the main focus of the current post. Both academics and practitioners have developed fruitful thoughts on this issue. In fact, it is the whole philosophy underlying the website that virtually takes us away.
The welcome message is a kind of “special warning” giving a short description of what is the profile of visitors in the region and what is meant by “tourists” who are not particularly “accepted” in the place. Upon entering, and before selecting the link redirecting us to the official multilingual website for tourism in Burgundy, we have a number of choices in the menu emphasizing on: a) the “No tourist in Burgundy” (repeating the introductory message) and b) the “Tourist or not Tourist”. The latter portrays the main characteristics of each category in two distinct lists, namely, “Tourists” and “not Tourists”. The lists may be enhanced since web visitors are all encouraged to add their personal comments through the Facebook page.
In this vein, the striking dilemma “to go or not to go?” continues all the way out while virtually exploring the area. This website is addressed to French-speaking visitors only and it is a nice case study of how a regional tourism authority uses the web tool in order to diffuse a unique message with a clear objective, targeting a specific audience (domestic tourism at the moment) and giving emphasis to the experiential aspect of travelling. Despite the fact that traditional tourism models of sea, sun and sand and/or monuments and sightseeing have become obsolete, there is little evidence that all these so-called marketing efforts, internationally, have achieved their aim to enhance or modify it.
DMOs claim that tourism all-year-round is a “must-do” in their place and that living different experiences from a tourist’s viewpoint would be amazing. But they all result in a “me-too” product. In many cases, these statements are not supported by integrated tourism marketing strategies and they go hand-in-hand with the communication element of the marketing mix, which can be easily diffused, measured and proves to be rather malleable. If we make a zoom-in especially in the cases of national/regional promotional activities pertaining to “travel experience” or “not tourism” (i.e. Burgundy) then we can discern that there is high possibility of reading only slogans or seeing relevant films without finding adequate support behind.
Nevertheless, analyzing the case of pasdetouristes.com, I thought that it was one of the few times an official tourism website with its features, its layout and its content did actually support the core message. And of course this may affect the destination image after all (before, during or after the trip). Positioning destination brand “Burgundy” is a task to elaborate on but surely studying this website would be worthwhile as a starting point.