Building the case for a tourism campaign at your city

Your team has made the decision – this is the year to focus on tourism. Exciting stuff! But where do you start, and more importantly, how will you get city council to sign off on a new expenditure when coffers are already stretched to the max?

Where to start is normally the easy part – build a website, coordinate a list of all the amazing events and things to do in the city, then launch a social campaign to drive awareness. But getting the funds to launch, run and execute all of these tools effectively is going to require some research, report building and presenting. But don’t worry – we’ve pulled insights from our 25+ years of experience helping municipalities across North America build award winning tourism sites to help give you the inside track on getting the green light from city council.

Start with why

As Simon Sinek always says, start with why. Starting here can give you the baseline in which you can build your business case and objectives off. Why would someone visit my city? Why would someone choose here over another town? Why should city council give us funds? And while these may seem like no-brainers, digging into the answers can actually help set you up for success – not just in getting funding, but also in building and executing your marketing campaigns

Why would someone visit my city?

Is it the natural beauty of the surrounding country side, the quaint village feel, or the tantalizing restaurants that dot your city? Knowing what someone is going to do when they visit can help you determine who you should be targeting and what to profile if you build itineraries as part of your tourism website.

Why should city council give us funds?

The first reason should be because governments are providing tax benefits to domestic travellers – and the economic impact of visitors to your city will help city coffers. The second should be to help give local businesses a much-needed boost. After a few years of lack-luster tourism activities, now is the time to give your local business owners a jump-start to help them drive much needed new revenue to their shops and restaurants.

Build a business case

Great! You know why someone should visit, meaning you now know who you should be targeting. And more importantly, you know what pain points a tourism campaign will alleviate for your city council! Building a business case can help to set realistic expectations for your campaign.

While building in objectives, goals, and tactics on how you’re going to drive visitors are all great, the most challenging part is building an economic impact model that will give everyone a true sense of the value of a campaign. While the Tourism Industry Association of Canada reported that Canada was bringing in about $105 billion per year from tourism before the pandemic, that number has been cut in half during the pandemic – meaning your projections may need to be updated from past years.  Fortunately, there is a great tool available through the Government of Ontario that can help give you a sense of the potential impact tourism can have on your city! And to help, we’ve run a few different scenarios that can help showcase the value tourism can have:

Scenerio 1

5,000 new day visitors that are visiting for an unknown activity.

Total Visitor Spending: $466,419

New Jobs Created: 5

Scenerio 2

5,000 new visitors that are visiting for an unknown activity, with 50% of them spending the night.

Total Visitor Spending: $786,722

New Jobs Created: 8

Scenario 3

10,000 visitors for different activities, and 75% of visitors spend the weekend (2 nights).

Total Visitor Spending: $1,602,792

New Jobs Created: 16

Even with these small numbers, you can quickly see how valuable tourism can be to your local economy – giving a bump to hiring, business revenue, and ultimately, tax revenue.

Know the numbers

Once you’ve built your economic impact model, sorted out why someone is going to visit and determined what they’re going to see and do, one of the last phases is to build out your costs.

Tourism Website

  • A tourism website is probably the number one thing a municipality should start with. And while a new website may sound expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Partnering with a solutions provider that can give you options and flexibility, and has the experience to help guide you through the process, can likely end up being less costly than you’d expect!

Social Campaign

  • Since you already know who you’re targeting to come visit and what they’re going to do, you can use tools like Facebook’s ad builder to get a sense of the cost to run a targeted ad campaign.

Ready to get started?

Need some more advice, or ready to explore options for building a tourism website at your city? Book some time with our tourism expert today.