Driving Economic Development Through Tourism Marketing

Driving Economic Development Through Tourism Marketing

Oct 5, 2022 • 4 min

One common misconception we encounter often when talking to small destinations is the idea that tourism marketing and economic development do not affect one another. Contrary to popular belief, the benefits of tourism marketing go beyond just tourism related industries, and can have an extremely positive impact on economic development.  For small destinations, new businesses can’t thrive on income from locals alone, and the additional revenue created by visitors, through marketing, is really what makes a particular destination an attractive location to open up shop. 

One way to make the most out of this correlation is to have a  strategy in place that coordinates your tourism marketing and economic development efforts. Creating alignment between the two is really a driving factor in generating positive business impact for your destination. For more information on how tourism and economic development are related as well as an exercise to help you create brand alignment between the two, keep on reading!

Two Peas in a Pod: Tourism x Economic Development 

Although economic development efforts alone can generate some positive impact for your destination, combining it with tourism marketing gives it the extra push it needs to reach its full potential. Consider some of these ways your tourism marketing has a direct impact on economic development:

Increases Awareness

It is no secret that tourism marketing will increase the brand awareness of your destination to visitors, however investing in this also puts your message in front of the eyes of business decision makers as well. Creating a positive brand image and investing in marketing shows potential business owners that you are committed to growing and supporting the businesses in your town, making it more attractive to them.

In addition to business decision makers, your messaging could also inspire your visitors to make your destination their home. This is an added bonus for new businesses because it increases both the quantity and quality of the employee pool available at your destination. 

Trade Shows and Conferences

An often overlooked opportunity in tourism marketing is highlighting the capabilities of your destination to host a trade show or conference. Incorporating this into your strategy allows you to target the exact audience you need to reach for economic development. By inviting these decision makers to your destination they can see first hand the potential to generate revenue from both locals and visitors. Be sure to host events with businesses in industries that can benefit from what your destination has to offer. For example, if people visit your destination for its outdoor activities, consider targeting conferences for businesses in the outdoor industry.

“9% of executives with site selection responsibilities state that their perceptions of

an area’s business climate were influenced by leisure travel and 27% reported influence by

business travel. – Development Counselors International”

Improves Destination Offerings

Tourism marketing increases the revenue generated by visitors which in turn goes back to your destination to improve its overall infrastructure as well as sustain local businesses. This cycle not only continues to make the destination attractive to visitors, but business owners as well. Having the funds to improve parks, waterfronts, downtowns etc. are important in attracting both of these groups and can not be attained by relying on local funds alone.

(Photo by Dan Dennis on Unsplash)


As you can see from just these three examples above, there are a lot of ways tourism marketing can have a positive impact on economic development. By combining your efforts and creating a cohesive message among these departments you are giving your destination the greatest chance to reach its full potential.  As the saying goes, “team work, makes the dream work”!

Branding Exercise: Triangle of Truth

As mentioned, creating alignment between your tourism marketing and economic development is important because you want to attract the businesses that your visitors want to spend their time and money at. This may be a challenging task as the two have very different tones; economic development is more serious and business oriented vs. travel which tends to be light hearted and fun. It is important for destinations to avoid conflict in messaging and an exercise that is helpful in doing this is what we like to call the “Triangle of Truth”. This method of branding involves creating a strategic direction based on alignment of brand truth, audience truth and cultural truth.



  • Brand Truth = Your destination’s unique attributes and attractions that make it a place people want to visit.
  • Audience Truth = These are your visitors preferences, day to day habits, spending power, etc.
  • Cultural Truth = These are the subconscious factors that affect your audience’s reason for wanting to travel. 


Complete this exercise for your audiences in both tourism and economic development and look for the patterns that emerge to create your cohesive messaging. Once this is finalized, be sure that everyone in your organization has been informed so that everyone is talking about your destination the same way.

The continual collaboration between tourism and economic development at your destination is essential in continuing to grow and improve.  Both of these audiences have similarities of why they may find your destination attractive. Uncovering these similarities can unify your efforts, create a strong brand image/message and therefore positively impact your bottom line. 

For more information on how destination marketing impacts your local economy, download our additional resource HERE.

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