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Brief Published: 28 Apr 2020

Welsh Locals Urge Visitors to Stay Away During Pandemic

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#DontVisitWalesChallenge

With travel currently off-limits, destinations have a quandary: how to inspire future visitors, without sounding tone-deaf. Consumer-creators are charting a path, with ‘don’t visit’ campaigns that leverage humour and humility to discuss travel in a responsible manner.

Despite the UK’s strict shelter-in-place measures, day-trippers flooded Welsh parks over the extra-warm Easter holiday weekend. Local social media professional Owen Williams responded with satirical retro-styled posters featuring slogans like ‘See Wales, On the Internet’, and ‘Wales – Don’t Even Think About It’.

Enraged locals joined in, sharing their own posters on Twitter with the hashtag #DontVisitWalesChallenge. Examples range from ‘Ogmore-By-Sea: Riddled with Crabs’ and ‘Peny Fan: It’s Not Everest, Your Nan Could Manage It’. Wales’ own tourism board even took part, tweeting ‘Visit Wales. Later’. And residents of other desirable destinations are making their own – urging visitors to London’t, for instance.

Meanwhile, in early March, US artist Amber Share designed posters for famous US National Parks featuring quotes from their one-star Yelp reviews. Slogans range from ‘There are bugs’ (Sequoia), to ‘The only thing to do is walk around the desert’ (Joshua Tree). As Share explains, the project “is a snarky love letter to the National Parks System”.

The blend of affection and exasperation driving these consumer-made ‘don’t visit’ campaigns is an ethos travel marketers would be wise to embrace. We’ve already seen self-deprecation filter into Nebraska’s reminder that it’s ‘Not for everyone’, highlighted in New Travel Narratives. This genre of critical-praise could surge post-pandemic, as locals balance the desire to protect their communities and inspire (fewer) future visitors. 

Local-led critique is also impacting policy on overtourism, as we note in NYTimes Travel Show 2020. Going forward, destinations would be wise to integrate such sentiment into marketing campaigns to appease both locals and visitors.

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