JWT’s AnxietyIndex is designed as a place to discuss how brands and consumers are responding to the global recession. With daily content updates, AnxietyIndex.com includes contributions from around JWT’s network, offering a truly global perspective.
After numerous headlines about rapes in India, including several incidents involving tourists, fewer female travelers are visiting the country. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India has reported that visits by female tourists dropped 35 percent year-over-year in the first three months of 2013. In response, as The New York Times reports, Indian states are forming police forces dedicated to protecting tourist-heavy spots, and the Tourism Ministry is opening a multilingual toll-free helpline to be staffed by women.
The Tourism Ministry’s latest idea involves badges emblazoned with the phrase “I Respect Women” in languages including English, Korean, Russian and Mandarin. Workers in the tourism industry, like drivers, guides and travel agents, will be encouraged to wear them. Skift has termed this effort to curb anxieties around sexual violence “2013’s worst idea in travel” on the grounds that it does nothing to actually change social attitudes and behaviors.
Tourism to Egypt dropped precipitously in the aftermath of the Arab Spring as political upheaval continued to make headlines. Watching news footage shot around Tahrir Square in Cairo, potential visitors were put off. So the Egyptian Tourism Authority worked with JWT Cairo to convincingly demonstrate that the rest of the country was safe and enjoyable for travel. At last year’s ITB Berlin, one of the biggest events in the tourism industry, the Tourism Authority live-streamed feed from cameras set up in tourist destinations around Egypt. For three days, video of beaches, palm trees, historic sights, urban areas, etc., were projected on giant screens. The live stream also was tweeted, with #cometoegypt going viral on social media.
Today’s consumers are looking for authenticity, and live-streamed footage offers the real deal: Consumers can verify the facts with their own eyes. In Australia, for instance, the company Ecoeggs offers an online ChookCam trained on their free-range chickens, assuring consumers that the hens “ graze on open pastures,” as promised. “Egypt Live” won a silver for Interactive and a bronze for Media at Dubai Lynx 2013.
From boosting local retail outlets with Cash Mobs to advocating for an entire national economy, the DIY ethos seems to be coming out in full force lately. Launched in February by a team of Greeks across the globe, Up Greek Tourism is a private grassroots campaign to help boost tourism to the economically ravaged nation. “Governments are trying to find solutions, but we as individuals should not wait. We need to help ourselves,” says one lead fundraiser in a YouTube plea for donations. In just 20 days, the team was able to raise $20,352 on Loudsauce.com from 333 people, surpassing the initial goal of $15,000.
The funds were used to secure an electronic billboard in New York City’s Times Square for 30 days. The ad, designed by Greek designer Charis Tsevis, displays a montage of iconic Greek tourist destinations to tempt passersby into booking a Greek holiday. Just as we saw during the Great Recession, anxiety is stimulating proactive responses among consumers and citizens who are feeling let down by big institutions. Rather than accept defeat, some are taking economic matters into their own hands with the mindset that change is possible and that many small efforts can combine to help turn things around, whether on a local or a global level.