destination marketing

The tourism sector contributes to the global economy with figures in the trillion of dollars, and moves more than 1.2 billion people every year (UNWTO, 2017). Tourism is becoming ever more competitive as destinations compete to attract market share of tourists, tourist expenditure and economic growth (Morgan & Pritchard, 1998). Pierce & Ritchie (2007) observe the trend in which tourists are becoming more sophisticated and desiring holiday experiences other than simply the ‘sand, sun and sea’. They suggest that in response to this, there is an increasing need for destinations to differentiate themselves from competitors. People need a reason or a rationale to travel, and to travel to one destination over another (Morse, King, & Barlett 2005). One such method that is being adopted by destination marketing organisations (DMOs) world-wide, in an effort to craft and differentiate an identity and to guide this decision making process, is that of destination branding (Morgan & Pritchard, 1998). In their discussion of the prominence of social media as an element of destination marketing organisation marketing strategy, Hays, Page and Buhalis (2013) observe that destination marketing through social media is on the rise at a time when public sector funding cuts are prompting organisations to seek greater value in the way marketing budgets are spent. Consequently they argue that social media offers DMOs a tool to reach a global audience with limited resources. In addition to this, amongst tourists, a growing percentage is setting its eyes on an emerging market: tourism to places of death, disaster and atrocity (Lennon & Foley, 2000). Given the overt experiences of climate crisis globally, regional areas have localised experiences in which natural features and industries are irrevocably transformed through natural or man-made disaster, giving rise to the trend towards Dark Tourism (Martini & Buda 2020).

The research brief

Research Aim:

A regional tourism board [your client] would like to establish a contemporary destination marketing approach that can attract market share of tourists via social media to the region. Given the global environmental crisis and its local impacts, they are aware that perhaps one narrative for the region is to focus on a recent crisis. Through this approach they desire to support economic growth, an interconnected fabric of service providers and a sustainable tourism industry that is environmentally aware and supports the region to rebuild after a crisis experience.

Intended outcomes:

  • Provide comparative examples of appropriate destination marketing campaigns that utilise the narrative of dark tourism.
  • Identify effective and appropriate social media practices utilised in these campaigns to promote brand identity to wider audiences in the context of a regional crisis.
  • Evaluate the utility of regional rejuvenation stories in these campaigns as a way to develop a unique selling proposition.

Research stakeholders:

The Client: The regional tourist board in a country of your choice, for example Tourism Victoria in Australia.

Regional crisis: Natural disaster or public health crisis- this could be fire and floods- as is the recent case in Australia, or coronavirus, as is the recent case with Wuhan Province in China.

The location: A visibly recognisable tourist destination in the region that is currently rejuvenating after the crisis.

The tourist market: Identify who the international or national tourism target market is.

Establishing context

Initially, you will need to work with your tutor to define the context of your case study proposal through defining the national context and specific regional tourism board [your client].

Case study methodology

You are required to use the case study methodology as the overarching process through which your industry report will eventually be produced.

Please note the following:

*This assessment task only requires you to plan-out the design stage (not conduct the data collection and reporting).

*Your research proposal is for practice purposes only and you will not be doing this research in your masters’ research units later in your course of study.

In your research proposal, you will need to consider the project constraints presented in the next section and draw upon the range of research methods we have discussed to date in the unit. You may need to compliment these with other data collection techniques or engagement with secondary source materials analysis in your proposal design.

Project constraints

Your research design will need to consider the following parameters that speak to industry priorities.
1. Project timeframe: you will have a three-month period from the point of project commissioning to complete your research project
2. Cost feasibility: you will need to consider how much the elements of your research design will cost to deploy and provide an itemised cost estimate for your project.
3. Methodological considerations: you will need to provide clarity around the limitations and ethical considerations of the methodology proposed.
4. Case study methodology: you will need to use of the case study process to incorporate a range of relevant methods and provide thick description.
5. Study validity: you will need to provide statements demonstrating how you will address validity within your methodology and clarity around what can be extrapolated from the project findings based upon the data collection process.


Hays, S., Page, S. J., & Buhalis, D. (2013). Social media as a destination marketing tool: its use by national tourism organisations. Current Issues in Tourism16(3), 211–239.

Martini, A & Buda, DM 2020, ‘Dark tourism and affect: framing places of death and disaster’, Current Issues in Tourism, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 679-92.

Morgan, N. and Pritchard, A. (1998). ‘Mood marketing’– The destination branding strategy: A case study of ‘Wales’ The Brand. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 4(3), 215-229.

Peirce, S. & Ritchie, B.W. (2007) National Capital Branding, Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 22:3-4, 67-78, DOI: 10.1300/J073v22n03_06