Digital Tourism & Destination Marketing: TOFINO, BC
Marketing Case Studies | Linking Digital Tourism with Online Marketing: TOFINO, BC –
In this installment of MAC5 Case Studies, we’re talking about the ever-increasing role of Digital Tourism in the Destination Marketing & Hospitality sector. And for this case study, we have chosen our very own jewel of Canada’s Pacific Rim.
So, how does a small tourism based town showcase its natural, raw beauty to the world? Is it possible to sell a destination through online media? Welcome to Tofino – Vancouver Island’s top tourist destination.
Introducing Tofino …
Tofino was not even accessible by road until 1959. Thirteen years later, the gravel road was finally paved and the Tofino tourism industry started to bloom. “Welcome to the end of the road” some may say. Today, with close to 60 years under its belt, Tofino has created an online phenomenon which drives traffic to the West Coast of Canada.
Visitors from all over the world travel to experience the wide variety of activities that Tofino has to offer. The Pacific Rim National Park has preserved the rugged west coast of Tofino since 1970, and offers a variety of hiking trails showcasing the rainforests diverse landscape. If you’re looking to get back to raw, beautiful mother nature then this one is for you! Other activities such as surfing, storm watching, fishing, shopping and local cuisine attracts tourists in droves to this unique area of Canada.
However, the underlying question remains – How do tourists discover this amazing place?
From Small Fishing Community to Tourist Mecca
Tofino began as a small fishing and logging community full of lush forests and sustainable seas. Tourism had not yet even been considered. There were several families already living in the Pacific Rim National Park prior to its official designation. These families, known as squatters, where the first tourists of this vacant land. Over time more and more people caught wind of the rugged, natural beauty offered on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. In the late 1990’s visitors began making their way out to Tofino for the reason of sightseeing. It wasn’t long before a small surf community began to progress and local residents soon grew aware of the opportunities suddenly available to them.
It wasn’t long before accommodation, restaurants, and tourist activities were advertised to the masses. Visitor demographics began to vary, creating diversity in guests ranging from Vancouver Island locals to International guests. The tourism boom that occurred in Tofino years ago still continues today.
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Tourism Through Traditional Marketing
Tofino became a place of “word of mouth”. Visitors would return home and express the immense attraction and effect Tofino had on their lives. Stories were recited in person, over the phone, and portrayed in written articles. This vicarious familiarity with the destination drove the towns exposure by thousands. Everyone exposed to the wild coasts beauty was sure to tell their friends and family about their experiences. Word of mouth became very much a cause and effect marketing strategy which generated an attraction towards the tourism industry in Tofino. More and more people wanted to visit this spectacular place and experience it personally.
Cause: “Tofino offers some of the best fishing on Vancouver Island.”
Effect: Fishermen from across the Province were heading towards Tofino to catch their yearly intake of fresh seafood.
Cause: “Whales were spotted from the beaches of the Pacific Rim National Park.”
Effect: Families drove miles to experience foreign marine wildlife.
Cause: “Tofino offers the best waves in Canada.”
Effect: Surfers made their way across the country to try the mystical sport of surfing.
The attractions associated with Tofino are unlike any other place in Canada. And by harnessing direct cause & effect destination marketing, this simple, honest “Word of Mouth” drove visitors far and wide to experience this unique destination.
In addition to traditional word of mouth – many Tofino business owners began advertising their services to the general public. Billboards framed the streets of Vancouver Island and newspapers showcased the activities offered on the west coast. This newfound exposure directly improved the growth of tourism in Tofino like never before.
Tourism Through Online Marketing
Today, Tofino approaches digital tourism through a variety of online marketing techniques. Many local businesses have fully embraced digital tourism expressing their brands image through website development, blog content, online articles, and social media.
Tourism Tofino offers a variety of social media channels including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. At the time of writing, their Instagram account – @tourismtofino, has over 32K followers and has introduced the hashtag #YourTofino. This #YourTofino hashtag has, itself, generated over 54K photos capturing Tofino and surrounding areas. In marketing parlance, this is known as user-generated content and is a veritable godsend for digital tourism. Tourists interested in visiting the destination of Tofino can find unlimited photo content using these social channels. Much like word of mouth, geotagging will link this destination to many domestic and international guests.
The Tourism Tofino website offers a variety of information on local attractions offered in and around the Tofino area. This excellent resource, provides visitors with large quantities of information about their travels to the west coast. This tactic allows visitors to easily prepare for an exciting trip ahead of them.
Digital Tourism – Mass Organic Appeal
The destination of Tofino can be explored throughout the online world. The location has been mentioned in hundreds of blog posts and articles related to travel, surfing, fishing, adventure and the list goes on. These content pieces generate stories to the general public which in turn drive a vested interest to the location. Much like social media, online content provides imagery to anyone interested in the destination.
In addition to these forms of writing and imagery, Tofino has been included in a wide variety of film content. The stunning landscape and open ocean draws film makers to the destination. These films then generate even more exposure for the Tofino location.
Local businesses do an excellent job at marketing their products and services positioned in Tofino. These small businesses attract many visitors to the Tofino area. It is important to have every element of a destination town exposed to the outside community. A few examples of Tofinos largest businesses are Tofino Brewing Company, Jamie’s Whaling Station, Shelter Restaurant and Storm Surf Shop. These companies generate a large amount of attractiveness to the Tofino community.
If you have not yet visited the Tofino area, you should be adding it to your bucket list today! The town bursts with a sense of community – offering a wide variety of activities for every generation. Tofino also provides attractive accommodations and an abundance of spectacular cuisine popular with foodies. If you would like to see more about the destination, take it upon yourself to discover their online marketing efforts.
My Personal Agenda
Surf at Long Beach –
Walk to Schooner Cove –
Enjoy a beverage at the Tofino Brewery –
Share the Admirals Plate at Schooner Restaurant –
Shop at House of Alaia –
Experience an Ocean Adventure –
Thanks for reading! Do you have a favourite Tofino attraction?
*Image credit: TourismTofino
Also published on Medium.