Telling powerful stories that inspire action
The pristine Faroe Islands – a group of volcanic islands in the North Atlantic, halfway between Iceland and Norway – welcome around 100,000 visitors each year, attracted by the country’s dramatic scenery, including rugged cliffs, sea caves, spectacular waterfalls and an abundance of birdlife, not forgetting a population of just 50,000 Faroese people and their 80,000 sheep.
In 2018, the Faroe Islands announced a new initiative, to close to tourists for one weekend in spring 2019. Why? The Faroese people were keen to keep their green islands unspoiled. Notably – and happily – the Faroe Islands currently do not have an over-tourism problem. However, the fragile natural environment in a few popular tourist locations had felt the effects of an increase in visitors. These areas needed a helping hand to ensure they remained pristine; sustainability is the goal.
The challenge presented was to promote Visit Faroe Islands’ Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism campaign as part of its sustainable tourism strategy for the country, without it appearing as if the tourist locations were damaged in any way or that the country was suffering from an overtourism problem. Ensuring that the campaign felt natural, and not simply a marketing ploy, was also a key consideration.
(Hero image credit: (c) Kirstin Vang)
Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism was created by a partner agency, with the idea of closing the Faroes’ key tourist sites for one weekend in spring, allowing just 100 volunteers to visit to help with projects aimed at improving the locations.
Travel PR was tasked with both its own input and with leveraging the campaign across the UK media. Our top priority was to target key national publications with a large online presence, in order to spread word of the story to other outlets, knowing that this tends to act as a catalyst for further coverage. We organised three press trips and also arranged interviews for Visit Faroe Islands spokespeople with key media outlets.
Messaging was kept clear and straightforward, ensuring that we were conveying both what was happening and, more importantly, why it was happening, thus communicating the bigger picture and the wider impact of the campaign. Post the closure weekend, we promoted the positive story of the success of the project, harnessing comment from individual volunteers, including media, alongside comment from the Faroe Islands’ Prime Minister, its tourist board and key statistics to show the impact of the campaign. A second round of PR followed for the 2020 project, subsequently cancelled due to Covid, but kicking off again finally in March 2022.
(Image credits: Klara Johannesen & Funningur_Lorenz Weisse)
A wide spread of coverage was achieved in key national media targets, including The Guardian, Mail Online, Lonely Planet, the i, The Telegraph, BBC.co.uk and The Times. The campaign significantly aided increased visibility for the Faroe Islands as a travel destination, as well as communicating the important sustainable messages central to the tourist board’s strategy.
(Image credit: Funningur_Lorenz Weisse)
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