Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Great Adventure Together: Tourism Websites

I don't normally click on website adverts, unless by mistake, which is what happened on Sunday. I was on a Spanish news site and clicked something that said "guardian de los volcanoes". It led to a great adventure. One together. There are fourteen languages for this adventure website; a fifteenth when you click on a short video.

The great adventure takes you into the world of the guardian of the volcanoes, the genie of the magic mountain, the wizard of the ocean waters, the fairy of the clear sky, the goblin of the enchanted forest, the empress of the trade winds, the queen of all living beings. The guardian needs help in finding giant sandcastles. The genie knows all the mysteries of the mountain. The wizard's powers lie under the water. The fairy can read the stars and fly above the clouds. The goblin moves swiftly through forests. The empress seeks help in getting rid of the clouds. The queen has all the animals in her kingdom. There is a place where stars shine brighter. Another with a cave that has paintings which are thousands of years old. One more which used only to be inhabited by wolves.

All these adventures are a prelude - a game before the main adventures of whales, spectacular routes, the ocean floor, nature, the waves. The fifteenth language is mysterious. A small boy in Paris is at a bakery. Eventually the baker understands. The boy wants a croissant. The video concludes with two messages. Travel to the best climate in the world. Your children know where adventure begins.

The fifteenth language is recognised as being a language, even though it isn't spoken. In 2009, Unesco declared it a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. It is a language that may be some three thousand years old. It's not possible to say. But it is very old. It is "silbo", the Gomeran whistling language from the island of La Gomera in the Canaries. The great adventure takes place on those islands.

Hellocanaryislands* is the official website for Canary Islands tourism. It has plenty of information the deeper you go into it, but the initial pages are principally devoted to imagery and to the adventure games. How does a destination capture family tourism? Appealing to the kids is one very good way. Children are as important to the holiday purchasing decision as the strength of the parental budget. Hook them with games, and ... .

This is a superb website. It doesn't preach. There's no sense of desperate overloading of explanation and justification. It just is. And it does it superbly. Aimed mainly at a family market, it doesn't disguise the sun-and-beach dimension. It isn't ashamed by the existence of year-round sun and the varying shades of sand. But it grafts on all the other elements - like nature, like routes. And the Canaries have nature in abundance, such as in the ravines of La Gomera. These alternative elements are presented in a family way.

Looking at this website makes one thoroughly depressed. Innovative, bold but at the same time simple, it is everything that Balearics promotion isn't. There is no such website.

The Canaries do obviously have an advantage over the Balearics - "travel to the best climate in the world" - but that is only part of the story. Rather like the Balearics, the Canaries are very well-known, the sun-and-beach aspect in particular. Why should they need to present such a lavish website if so much of the tourism sells itself, which is how the Balearics look upon the sales effort? Perhaps it is because the Canarian government doesn't adopt an arrogant attitude. Perhaps it is because it believes, despite soaring sales, that front of mind where the holidaymaker is concerned remains essential. Perhaps it is because it doesn't seem to be tearing itself apart in figuring out what its tourism represents. There's no sense of the idiotic notion of sun-and-beach being "obsolete", as has been said by certain Balearic politicians, who have no idea what tourism means.

These certain politicians would now doubtless stamp on any attempt to follow a Canarian lead. The budget would be just one reason. Yet the Canaries website has the sort of stuff that the Balearics so wish to promote - the Unesco sites and declaration, the nature routes, environmental consciousness.

The Balearics were years ago left behind in the promotional stakes, especially where the internet is concerned. Has it never crossed anyone's mind that, while the Balearics are easy to sell (in summer), holidaymakers should be shown greater respect? Front of mind is one justification. A sense of belonging and emotional attachment are others. And perhaps more than anything, there is the need to revive the idea of adventure. Just as holidays once were. In the Canaries, they have a great adventure. Together.

* http://www.hellocanaryislands.com/great-adventure-together

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