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The Best Ways For Destinations To Encourage Local Discovery

How to encourage local discovery

Across the globe, the travel industry is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic of 2020. According to the World Tourism Council, the tourism sector is likely to shed 121 million jobs. Financial losses are projected of $3.4 trillion — at a minimum. The situation has destinations looking for new ways to boost the bottom lines of attractions, restaurants and hotels. Fortunately, they don’t have to look too far. There’s a fresh crop of staycationers right in their own backyards.

The staycation trend is nothing new, of course. Back in 2018, a YouGov Omnibus study found that more than half of Americans had chosen to stay in their home city for a vacation. But the pandemic has certainly increased that number, with travelers nervous about air travel opting to stay closer to home. The mission of destination marketing organizations now isn’t attracting out-of-state visitors. It’s encouraging local discovery, getting residents out to explore their own cities. Here are a few strong examples we’ve seen in recent months.

Stay Close. Go Far.

This month, the Kentucky Department of Tourism unveiled the state’s new in-state marketing campaign, “Stay Close. Go Far.” As its name suggests, it’s aimed at helping to grow local tourism, communities and businesses throughout the state.

Why It Works: Simply, this campaign looks great. The “Stay Close. Go Far.” campaign is centered on inspiring content, most of it visual. Beautiful photography and video of outdoor recreation and other experiences encourages Kentuckians to rediscover the Bluegrass State’s cultural and natural wonders. It may be familiar to locals, but the new campaign still feels fresh and dynamic.

LA ♥

As one of the most popular destinations in the world, Los Angeles hasn’t had to rely heavily on its own residents in past. That’s all changed in 2020. As part of an effort to revitalize its travel industry and the city’s economy in general, Los Angeles Tourism has just launched “LA ♥,” its first-ever marketing campaign specifically targeting locals.

Why It Works: Everyone loves a deal. The LA ♥ campaign is a budget-friendly initiative, with tons of deals and special offers at restaurants, hotels and attractions. There’s nothing more enticing than a third-night free at a hip downtown hotel or a discount at a hot restaurant you’ve always wanted to try or.


Florida’s economy relies heavily upon tourism, so the state has been hit especially hard by the pandemic’s fallout. This month, the state is pouring $13 million into an ad campaign aimed at getting locals to explore the Sunshine State.

Why It Works: This one really makes the case for Florida as the ultimate vacation destination – and its launch video highlights how lucky locals are to have it all at their fingertips. “We live here because we love here,” the narrator says over classic images of Florida beauty. “A place unlike anywhere else in the world.”

Show Up For Alaska

With cruises and air travel drastically reduced, Alaska has had to refocus its efforts. The “Show Up For Alaska” campaign, launched this summer, targets Alaskans, urging them to support small businesses and discover the treasures that are sprinkled throughout the state.

Why It Works: “Show Up For Alaska” tugs at the heartstrings, depicting Alaska less as the sprawling destination it is, and more as a small close-knit community. By focusing on individuals and small businesses, the campaign adds an extremely personal element to the staycation experience.

Coming Up Next: Fall & Winter Local Discovery

As we go into our colder months, people are bound to hibernate — this year more than ever. While holiday travel won’t entirely disappear, it’s likely to be on a much smaller scale than previous years. It’s a good reminder that every destination does have a built-in audience that is just itching to get out. DMOs should be working now with their partners to develop local-targeted discounts and experiences. Hotels can launch locals-specific deals, while restaurants can offer value-adds for dining. And tour operators have the opportunity to create new loyal customers (who, once travel resumes, will bring friends!). For destinations, the upcoming months are going to be all about local discovery. Start planning now.