It happens so often on tourism marketing material — the classification of activities into categories such as history, nature, beaches, food, arts, shopping, and so on. Classification is useful; it’s necessary shorthand to let people know what they’re getting themselves into. But it can also be limiting, because it puts each of these categories into silos, and can often miss the overlaps between them.
Why isn’t food also about shopping, for example? Many food-related decisions, ways of preparing food, and choice of ingredients are based on what’s available and at what price. Whether or not someone has the ability to find and purchase a certain type of ingredient can affect an entire culture’s cuisine. Food is about climate, too, because what we eat and how we cook is affected by our individual and collective responses to the climate emergency.
Why is nature separate from history? A trekking adventure up a mountain isn’t just about the activity; there’s so much to learn about how the land has shaped the history of the region, the challenges that societies have faced, and how technology and infrastructure has responded to the natural environment. The natural environment is the ground from which economic structure, industry, commerce, and social organisation spring up.
We could go on about the rich interdisciplinary intersections in tourist experiences. But let’s look at something more practical that organisations in the tourism industry can do, right now: to see categories in tourism marketing as useful and convenient, but not to be limited by them. Because tourism isn’t just about visiting a place, going to a beach, and buying a souvenir. It’s about life, about the various forms of cultural expression that we encounter.
For this reason, one of the mandates of brand storytelling in post-pandemic tourism is to go beyond categories, and to explore real human interactions — the meaningful exchanges where history, nature, arts, shopping, and many other categories meet. One cannot exist without the others, so it’s time to tell meaningful stories that bring all these different aspects of life together, and form long-lasting connections with audiences.
Read more about brand storytelling in tourism.