About this good practice
COVID-19 pandemic has had severe impacts on tourism and on cultural heritage community, closing facilities, reducing visitors. Considering that lockdown measures prevailed throughout Europe during pandemic, including Greece, the Region of Central Macedonia (RCM) focused on tourism strategic planning, communication strategy and virtual visiting building, and continued to disseminate tourism and cultural heritage information and meet goals, thus enhancing cultural tourism. A number of tools were produced by providing digital facilities for virtual visitors to tourist, cultural and heritage sites and events. The implemented actions and the material produced (i.e. content development of articles and audiovisual material, digital campaign, digital advertising plan, support of Social Media accounts) were based on travel experiences of selected destinations, which are the driving force of tourism demand and the tools to support cultural tourism image to public. RCM exploited a period that people worldwide used social media and internet for communication, entertainment and information; all Points of Interest were not crowded thus were keeping their characteristics unchanged, and audiovisual promotional material could be easily produced having the quality needed; strengthened its presence, maintained and increased the travelers’ desire to visit RCM when conditions would be normal; gave the chance to virtual travelers visit the region’s cultural and heritage sites and events.
On own funds of the RCM’s Tourism Directorate, the budget required for this well-documented project and its actions on cultural and tourism promotion action plan and virtual visiting of the region’s beauties was 150.000 (€), while an ICT and audiovisual trained human resources team was involved.
Evidence of success
Articles content development, audiovisual material production, digital campaign in Discovergreece.com, digital advertising plan and Social Media accounts support, altogether resulted in success on grounds of fans-number of followers, reach-impressions, and engagement rate (increase of followers, average organic reach, total engagement i.e. shares, likes on FB and IG accounts, increase of YT video views and average view rate).Moreover, no significant reduction in RCM's tourism sector was noticed.
Potential for learning or transfer
Knowing that measures and actions put in place today will shape cultural tourism of tomorrow and using COVID-19 pandemic crisis as an opportunity to rethink cultural tourism for the future, the Tourism Directorate of the Region of Central Macedonia shifted to communication strategy building and virtual visiting building, put in force a number of activities and provided digital facilities for virtual visitors and for future visitors.Key aspects behind RCM’s strategy are the need to understand, evaluate and promote the tourist experience, the need to explore how a destination (incl.cultural heritage) should be presented to be attractive to virtual visitors with the use of technological development, ICT and Internet usage, especially cultural destinations.COVID-19 unprecedented situation required new approaches adaptation; to this respect RCM (NUTS2) managed to continue to disseminate cultural heritage information and tourist destinations, change the way heritage is shared and meet goals.