Newsletters — November 11, 2018

Tourism Destination Development: Geography of Fear

We have been commenting many times in our meetings with DMOS and other travel trade representatives there is more relevant to see how the visitors stays are prolonged rather than only increasing bednights volume. Also there is in every destination a geography of fear where the locals consider travel destination boundaries totally differently than visitors. This has been for many DMOs and travel industry overall quite shocking piece of information how small the “territory” of domestic or foreign visitor’s visiting area is. 

A regular feature of World Travel Market is the release of research company Euromonitor’s Global Travel Trends report.  WTM 2019 ended just a week ago. One of its main themes for Europe is the rising popularity of the Hipster holiday. So, what’s this about? The inevitable pattern of visitor flows in most city destinations is towards well-established tourist areas and attractions. But more recently, there has been a growing tendency to explore areas outside the mainstream as Hipster neighborhoods have expanded.

The typical characteristic of these zones is a population of young professionals drawn to an area that was once undesirable but has now become now trendy. And their “hipster” inhabitants are typically followers of latest trends and fashions, in particular those that are outside the cultural mainstream. I remember personally well, how we focused for “young and trendy adults” in our marketing activities when promoting Helsinki districts outside of city centre. We called the campaign “Nordic Oddity” which received award at ITB travel fair in Berlin in 2006. As a city-break destination and where business travel used to dominate tourism destination planning, we needed more image marketing showing new areas for leisure customers. The campaign took five (5) districts which were approachable by using public transportation or just by walking there. Our goal was to prolong the length of stay and distribute tourism expenditure to add companies which are benefiting more from visitors. Also we wanted to avoid gap of seasonality. We introduced travel products, services and attractions equally from summer and winter seasons. The message was that “Helsinki is open full year around”. See below some handouts and results from that campaign.

“Tourists are now embracing districts, seeking to experience the Hipster culture which typically involves pop-up restaurants, vegan cafés, independent shops and craft galleries. A key factor in the development of the phenomenon has been Airbnb and its peers opening up these areas to tourists; many lack hotels, with private rentals often being the only option for staying locally. While boutique hotels have started opening up in Hipster areas, most hotel chains are likely to struggle due to the independent nature of consumers.

Some of the leading Hipster areas include Kreuzberg in Berlin, District VII in Budapest, Sodermalm in Stockholm, Malasana in Madrid, Miera iela in Riga and Dalston/Hoxton in London. Not surprisingly, Millennials are the main visitors, on the hunt for foodie experiences, artistic and creative hang-outs and shopping”, says ETOA, European Tour Operator Association in it’s article.

The Hipster trend is broadening the fabric of European cities, and is especially relevant as some destinations respond to over-crowding by encouraging tourists to experience more than just the most popular areas. It’s also a trend consistent with the growing interest in authentic tourist experiences, giving tourists an opportunity to get closer to the way that locals live. And it’s being embraced by tour guides and sites such as Vayable, which offers hipster tours of specific city districts, often delivered by local residents to provide authenticity.  Online travel guides including Likealocal and Travelsofadam have also developed guides to many of these destinations, listing up-to-date reviews of the ever-changing Hipster scene.”

Our ideas to improve this current problem of all destinations and resorts are:

1. To make a study about your destination geography of fear boundaries. Interviews, GPS studies, traffic studies.

2. Observing your street  signs especially for the pedestrians. Are they showing locations to your main attractions and places to visit? Does directions give safe and interesting routes to approach those places?

3. Good lighting system, pedestrian walking routes, roads for cyclists and other traffic, give safe and more consumer friendly approach travelling in the destination. 

4. If your destination is suffering for example snow during winter time – as we do sometimes in Helsinki – cleaning the streets fast and effectively is necessary.

5. Good smart telephone apps for visitors – also useful for travellers which are only wandering around destination during odd hours.

6. Updated maps (printed and/or digital ones). Maps are showing the places of interest also outside of familiar streets.

7. If the destination is having public transportation system, those should be introduced easily by using visible colours, brands, destination names and codes. Purchasing tickets should be easy and having guidelines at least in English. Bus, tram and metro stations have names and guide lines shown easily. Adding information also in English and other popular languages used in the destination by the visitors.

8. Where the safety issues are more a problem, more police and other safety guards are needed, observation cameras and alarms could prevent also criminal acts in the area. Organizing events where the location is capable of hosting f.ex. concert for the audience of thousands safely and effectively. 

9. Attractions, places to visit, shops having opening and closing hours which is fitting also by using public transportation, lighting hours.

10. In destination planning to have more than one reason to visit other districts than remaining in city centre area. Hotels, restaurants, museums, attractions and other tourism services in nearby which is easily to reach on foot, having bicycle or by using public transportation. The destination planning should be conducted more sustainable way.


If you are interested more about how to prolong the length of stay and what is geography of fear, please contact ToolBox representative. We have some ideas how to improve travel destinations length of stay and improve the situation of geographical fear.