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Digital communities help build momentum for the world’s favourite destinations

Spokesperson: Joanne Chehab, Head of Business Partnerships for Managed Services, Global Business Solutions, MENA – TikTok

World's best destinations according to Joanne Chehab

The tourism industry is entering the mid-2020s with a renewed sense of excitement and vigour, as a new generation of travellers gets ready to discover the stunning landscapes, compelling food, thrilling adventures, and the warmth of human experiences that have been the staples of intrepid globe trotters.

This growing tribe, as well as already-established travelers – who are dreaming, considering, or booking a getaway throughout the year – are exposed to the new dynamics of the travel industry. People are constantly in search of authentic experiences but are also overwhelmed by the influx of information available to them through various traditional and digital media.

The conventional approach to destination marketing no longer works, as user attention is saturated by the sheer amount of information available to them and destinations compete more fiercely with each other. In the age of information overload, travelers are seeking authentic storytelling and visuals that give them a glimpse of – or “transport” them to their dream destination – even before they embark on the trip.

Today’s travelers increasingly look to online communities for unbiased views and experiences shared by fellow travelers. As a result, digital platforms built on communities that continually share their travel stories are gaining traction, becoming a go-to source for inspiration and planning. In addition, today’s travelers are also keen to share their first-hand experience of their journeys in an entertaining way on digital platforms, rounding off a creative cycle that in turn inspires countless others.

In Saudi Arabia, for instance, residents start dreaming about travel 10 weeks prior to their journey with video and digital platforms inspiring 50 percent of their choice of destination – and more than 70 percent of people look at TikTok for discovering travel ideas, while 64 percent book a trip by getting inspired by TikTok content.

Similarly, at least 83 percent of Saudi residents were found to be planning an international trip in the next six months in a survey conducted last year, with Egypt, UAE, and Turkey being top short-haul and France and Germany being top long-haul destinations. More significantly, 74 percent of users looked for travel discoveries on TikTok.

Thus, the role of global communities and active creators on platforms like TikTok cannot be overstated. They not only consume content but also express themselves and share their stories through engaging and enticing geo-tagged visuals. This creates a virtuous cycle where travelers inspire one another, fueling the demand for unique and authentic travel experiences.

As this trend continues to grow, we can expect destinations and tourism boards to leverage the power of digital platforms and communities to market themselves more effectively. By showcasing credible, innovative, and visually appealing content, destinations can boost their brand presence and stand out from the competition. Travelers, in turn, benefit from a more genuine and personalised experience while planning their trips.

In addition, destination brands can tap into the demographic characteristics of digital platforms, which cater to millennials and Gen-Z audiences. These groups have increasing purchasing power and significant influence over their family’s travel plans, making it crucial for destinations to engage with them effectively.

Digital platforms such as TikTok have taken the lead in this journey, disrupting the traditional destination marketing landscape with its undeniable potential and momentum. Its easy-to-use editing tools, native content, and creator community enable destinations to promote their offerings in a unique and creative way.

As more people turn to TikTok and similar platforms for travel inspiration, we anticipate a shift in how tourist attractions are marketed globally. Travel and tourism marketers will increasingly leverage the opportunities presented by these digital platforms to reach and engage with their target audiences.

The global travel community needs to embrace the power of digital platforms proactively. By doing so, they can harness the potential of online communities and active creators to inspire travelers and promote their destinations authentically and organically. This new approach to destination marketing will not only benefit the industry but also enrich the experiences of travelers seeking memorable and genuine adventures.

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