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Tourism Destinations are going Web 2.0

More and more Tourism Destinations, especially at the national level are now looking to go Web 2.0. The Austrian National Tourist Board launched phase one of their initiative, Cool Austria (I do have to say though that I love their cheesy and tacky tag line: “My land is your land”), and VisitSweden is developing theirs. And we at the CTC just launched a few initiatives ourselves; phase one of our community site on Canada.travel, our “We are more” contest, and our community on Yahoo! Canada.

Austria‘s site is a full fledged community site, where you can connect with fellow travellers, including maps mash-ups, and message boards. It seems though that CoolAustria has challenges generating content – one thing we anticipated early on,

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and solved through our partnership with Realtravel.

Sweden is looking to incorporate Personas, which should be interesting.
But what Sweden did launch is a fun interactive map, leveraging Google Maps.

And then there are our friends from Australia who launched a partnership with American Express to build a site called MyAussieVacation. The site features mobile applications, Google Earth, and the Australia Travel Wiki (build in Wetpaint). Now, I do have to admit, the

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Australia Travel Wiki is cool, should be interesting

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to see if they can generate content, or if it is done with help via feeds…
Note: I told my friend Chris Clarke about Wetpaing and the Austrailia Travel Wiki, and we played around with it, and he launched a test wiki for the hospitality and travel industry at Chrispitality. I encourage all you tourism/hospitaltity marketing bloggers to sign up, add your blog, and get involved.

It seems like everybody is taking a slightly different approach, which is exciting to see. Both William Bakker and Karin Schmolgruber blogged about the new US version of Holland.com. You can read their analysis, which I completely agree with. The only thing to point out is that while I have to agree that from a website design standpoint, the site is clever (maybe a bit too much flash for my taste) and makes probably the best use of new social media web technologies, in my opnion it does not do a great job in stimulating a conversation with travelers – as Joe Buhler stressed in his recent blog post. Now, I noticed a button on the side, promoting Holland’s planned presence in Second Life, but would be interesting to see the connection. Clever nevertheless, but even though the site includes tag clouds, and bookmarking tolls, I am not sure if this is the future of destination websites, and since designing a stylish side does not necessarily create value for consumers as well. But in any event, a huge step ahead of most destination websites, especially at the national level. So well done

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Holland, for taking that step!

I also support Holland’s direction to test this approach in one market first, in this case the US market. I am not sure though if this really a test managed by the Netherland Board of Tourism and Conventions‘ Headquarter back in Leidschendam, or if this initiatve was driven by the US office (smile). This is pretty common – I just recently wrote about New Zealand’s social media campaign site for the UK.

I can say that many of our global market office at the Canadian Tourism Commission are extremely creative, and always looking to leverage the web and emerging technologies. One of these examples is our German office, that a couple of years ago launched a very innovative web initiative

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targeting women interested traveling to Canada. This site, CeverWomen.de, not only makes use of blogs, newsletter, guestbook, online shop, forums, and podcasts, but it even has its own video site at CeverWomen.tv (including the new video magazine CANASTASIA). I think this is a very clever site (and I can say that as I was not involved in the conception of the idea), without lots of flash but some real conversations. Women can even look for their Canadian Dream Man. (and the guys can look at dream girls…maybe the German CTC team discovered that they were also getting a loyal male audience…?)

Lots of stuff going on (and I probably missed a few sites), and all of this and more will be topics at the upcoming Canadian E-Tourism Strategy Conference, Canada-e-Connect, being held in conjunction with the first ever Canadian E-Tourism Awards, featuring an exciting User-Generated Content and Social Media component itself. Stay tuned, and visit the Canada-e-Connect Blog as the awards will have a global twist as well…

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