Filter by/
Region/  All
Type/  All
Sorted By/  Most Recent

How tourist boards are sprinkling Xmas magic in 2020

By / / In Case Studies /
Festive cheer might be hard to come by in the tourism industry this year. But some cities around the world are determined to make the most of a bad situation and celebrate Christmas responsibly - with the help of their industrious marketing departments.
xmas marketing tourism
Tourist boards around the world would usually be promoting their country as the place to be at Christmas. But what about this year? We take a look at how 5 different cities around the world have adjusted their marketing at a time when gathering loads of people in one place is somewhat frowned upon.

#1 Go Vilnius, Lithuania

“Christmas in Vilnius: Amazing Whenever You’ll Be Able to Come.”

The Lithuanian tourist board offers a welcome dose of humour to their marketing in defiance of all the usual Eastern European stereotypes. They won ‘Best Communications Strategy” at “City, Nation, Place Awards 2020” for their tourism campaign earlier in the year which riffed on the fact that few people know where the city is.

“Vilnius: Amazing Wherever You Think It Is”

It’s now launched a Xmas sequel which reassures tourists that the city will be eagerly waiting for them when travel bans are lifted:

“Christmas in Vilnius: Amazing Whenever You’ll Be Able to Come.”

The image below depicts a futuristic vision of Vilnius, suggesting it might be a while yet till you can enjoy Christmas in the city. As someone who appreciates dark humour and deplores the slushy marketing so common in the UK, this comes as a welcome antidote.
lithuania xmas tourist board
Go Vilnius tells us: “Even if you won’t be able to visit us during this year’s festive season, there’s one thing we can assure you: Christmas in Vilnius will be amazing next year, the year after that, and for many more years to come. No matter which year you visit, you can expect a Christmassy Vilnius eager to welcome you.”
Key lesson: Are you just following the crowd when it comes to your marketing messaging? If so, what can you do to stand out?

#2 Lapland, Finland

“Say it with Santa”

Not even the official residence of Santa Claus is safe from the impact of Covid, despite the best efforts of its elves to create a vaccine from hyper-concentrated sugar. Lapland would usually be host to hordes of families seeking out the real McCoy amongst the pretenders to his sleigh.

But not this year.

Indeed, between March 2020 and March 2021, the tourism sector is expected to lose around €700 million. Still, the snow must go on and so they’ve invited people to send in personal messages for Santa to read out as a video greeting.

And according to The Telegraph, Santa is offering Zoom calls for £71 a pop.

Elsewhere, Visit Finland offer prominently displayed the latest Covid guidance and updates which is surprisingly not always prominently displayed on other tourist board Xmas landing pages.

Marketing lesson: When consumers still want a service you can no longer provide, can you offer it in a different way?

#3 Visit Belfast, Northern Ireland

“Belfast Believes”

Visit Belfast have been busy adapting messaging to the changing rules and regulations laid down by government. Back in October they kickstarted efforts with a sparkly ‘Shop safe, shop early’ (though presumably not all at the same time) message.

xmas tourist marketing belfast

It’s a tricky balance to get right: encouraging people to shop locally without crowding the high streets and town centres.

The shopping experience has been placed at the forefront of Belfast’s Christmas campaign: big brands and family stores both form part of the call to action. But their website also places a big emphasis on its online services and entertainment: You can virtually dress a Christmas tree, watch a live orchestra from your sofa, or buy from local businesses via a virtual Christmas market.

The hashtag #BelfastBelieves is once again the focal point of its social media campaign.

During a difficult time, the marketing team and decision-makers at Visit Belfast have pulled out all the stops to sprinkle a bit of Christmas magic in a responsible way.

Visit Belfast’s official Christmas video is retained from 2018:

Marketing lesson: Can you provide helpful marketing during a difficult time for consumers?

#4 Visit Madeira, Portugal

“It’s time for a different Xmas”

There’s no holding back from Madeira’s marketing team as they boldly proclaim to be Europe’s ‘Safest Xmas Destination 2020’. This is based on a vote by a website called which refers to the low number of Covid cases in the area, but also the rigorous hygiene standards.

But it’s not just about safety and hygiene. Food, drink and fireworks seem to be at the forefront of Madeira’s tourism promotion. As the below video demonstrates:

Marketing lesson: If you’ve received good news from an outside source, don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage.

#5 Khazakhstan.Travel

“Very Nice!”

Since the most recent Borat movie was released, Kazakhstan have decided to embrace its marketing potential (where once they were ashamed with the way Sasha Baron Cohen’s comic creation represented Kazakhstan on the international stage).

It’s a shrewd move which demonstrates a self-effacing sense of humour. But this video works because it’s more than a crude attempt to get in on a joke. It shows people enjoying different aspects of Kazakh culture and declaring it: “Very nice”.

Okay, it’s not strictly a Christmas promo. But at a time when a lot of tourist boards have been keeping quiet, the team at the Kazakhstan tourist board realised the opportunity to gain media coverage and showcase the country in a positive light – all on the back of a character that does the opposite.

While the Kazakh’s aren’t big on Xmas (though they do mark it on January 7th), they do celebrate the New Year with great zeal.

Marketing lesson: If you’re brand is being talked about for the wrong reasons, can you turn the attention into a positive?


I wish you all a very nice Xmas and a splendid New Year!


Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Mel Dixon
Author: Mel Dixon
Editor at Global Marketing Alliance

Editor and freelance writer wading his way through the world of data. One step at a time. Interested in data driven marketing insights supported by... data.

Leave your thoughts

Related reading

  • Keep up to date with global best practice in data driven marketing

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.