From giving away cars to playing up the local accent, cities use these subtle tactics to bring in visitors.
Create a Big To-Do
In 1987, in an effort to entice tourists to travel Tennessee’s back roads, Fentress County officials distributed a map of 300 attractions, including yard sales that dot the area along Highway 127. As demand for cheap, local wares grew, so did the number of vendors. Twenty-eight years later, the World’s Longest Yard Sale spans nearly 700 miles from Alabama to Michigan and attracts more than 100,000 visitors the first Thursday through Sunday of August every year.
Give Away a Car
Last winter, the Minneapolis tourism board gave away a 2015 Chevy Volt at a March auto show and offered a 10 percent discount on a stay at the Hilton downtown during January. Bonus attraction: Minneapolis’s heated skyway network lets visitors (and locals) travel, coatless, along 80 blocks through buildings filled with shops and restaurants.
Change Undesirable Names
To set tourists’ minds at ease, local officials in Melbourne, Australia, changed the name of Shark Bay to Safety Beach. It seems to have worked: The beach attracts up to 10,000 visitors a year and hasn’t had a shark attack in 60-plus years.
Play Up the Local Accent
A quick TripAdvisor search proves that tourist satisfaction in cities such as Nashville, Glasgow, and London can often be measured in drawls, burrs, and pronunciations. The wait staff and counter help’s New York accents made the experience for tourists from Los Angeles worth the price of the meal.