Conde Nast Top 10 Beaches

This week, I spoke at the Condé Nast Traveler Points of View Summit and was joined by peers I respect including Costas Christ, President, Beyond Green Travel, Kalani Ka’ana’ana, Head of Tourism Management in Hawaii and Cultural Ambassador, and Naledi K. Khabo, CEO, Africa Tourism Association.

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Facilitated by Erin Florio, CNT Travel News Director, our panel was titled The Great Reset, and focused on destinations, innovations, and insights we’re watching, implementing and considering as we as an industry work to help support economic growth and recovery.

We discussed sustainable travel, roadblocks to recovery, authentically involving the local community in tourism marketing efforts, and the diversification of each of our travel portfolios in a post-COVID-19 world.

I enjoyed hearing from my industry peers about their respective experiences and sharing insights about how we ourselves are thoughtfully planning the path ahead.

Here are some of the highlights of what we discussed during the panel as it relates to this beautiful Lowcountry destination. 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Hilton Head Island Tourism

We were fortunate, throughout the (almost) two years, that our destination was a naturally safe and desirable destination for Americans to explore. Our focus on outdoor activities, and wide, open spaces, along with the local community’s commitment to health and safety, meant visitors could and can continue to enjoy Hilton Head Island.

We saw an increase in domestic travel as a result, while the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport received increased lift. And, as a result, we saw new visitors to our destination from as far as California and New Mexico. 

Now, with international borders reopened, we can once again welcome more international tourists. 

Sustainable Tourism: Protecting our Delicate Ecosystem and Educating Our Guests

Sustainability is in our DNA as a destination and is supported by the local community and town ordinances established to protect our wildlife, land, and natural resources.

Education efforts around our sea turtles and how to protect our beaches are also actively shared with our current and prospective guests, in channels and formats that they use and can easily digest and apply. This includes YouTube videos, Instagram stories, and website information.

Hilton Head Island Sea Turtles

The Local Community: Engaging Residents in Communicating to Potential Travelers Authentically

Here in the Lowcountry, we’re lucky. Our local businesses and residents understand and support both our efforts to protect our delicate ecosystem and our marketing work designed to inspire people to visit our destination responsibly.

Locals are the heart of our destination and therefore integral to overall tourism marketing. As we discussed this topic, my advice to the webinar audience was to:

  • Include local businesses and community members from the beginning of any new strategy. 
  • Include a strong educational component as to the reasons behind new initiatives and tactics.
  • Be transparent in how we share the overall impact of tourism to the local economy.
  • Consistently communicate and engage with the community.

The Diversification of the Hilton Head Island Travel Portfolio

In our work, we spend a significant portion of time discussing how to best and most authentically diversify the Hilton Head Experience for our visitors and bring the cultural aspect of our destination to the forefront.

As we move into 2022, we will be ramping up our already significant efforts to tell the story of our History and Culture and demonstrate how it can be explored by visitors.

Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park

Specifically, we will be sharing multimedia marketing stories, staging influencer-supported visits, and engaging with the media to engage the public in the story of Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park. All this work is part of a 10-year master plan designed to celebrate the history of the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States. 

As part of the Gullah Geechee Corridor, which runs from Jacksonville FL, up the coast to Wilmington, NC, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park was recognized on the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network. This makes it one of six locations in South Carolina. 

As we help share this story and encourage visitors to experience it first-hand, we will work with Ahmad Ward, Executive Director of Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, to ensure it’s authentically communicated by passionate experts. And we’ll celebrate Ahmad himself, as a winner of a Museum Leadership Award from the Southwest Museums Conference.

Additionally, we’ll be highlighting other sites and experiences such as the Gullah Museum and putting the spotlight on our culinary traditions that are heavily influenced by the Gullah culture. 

I look forward to sharing more insights and details from our ongoing marketing efforts as we close out 2021 and move into 2022.

Source :

The Great Reset: Hilton Head Island Tourism Post-COVID-19


The Great Reset: Hilton Head Island Tourism Post-COVID-19

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