What are destinations? The definition of destination has been disputed since time immemorial. Destinations can be described as localities with particular sociological meaning; differences between places and countries; characteristics of certain tourist destinations. Destination branding identifies the brand of a place and the way in which that brand is perceived by the public. The name itself suggests it’s all about locations.
But what exactly is a tourist destination, or an international destination? The answer depends on how you ask the question. If you want to include only familiar, domestic destinations, then ‘identifiable’ would be the correct term. Here, destinations are places that are familiar to travellers, for example a place that is visited by parents who take their children to the local primary school and then decide to take their family on holiday there for the week. A city like Paris is therefore often seen as a destination for tourists who seek out its historical landmarks and contemporary culture; its cuisine and its work culture.
If you want to include destinations that are less familiar to travellers, then ‘popular urban destinations’ would be a better approach. In this respect, the destination is not necessarily physically located within a country but is instead situated in proximity to a large urban centre, or within close proximity to a wide range of amenities (such as sport, entertainment, education and other areas of common interest). Therefore, in most cases (unless it’s an urban area that is already well developed), a popular destination is not necessarily a destination at all – it could be any location that is closely related to tourism.
One of the most popular European destinations is Barcelona. As the economic hub of Spain, it attracts an enormous number of tourists every year, especially from Britain. The city’s famous yellow bus, theols, is emblematic of the spirit of Barcelona. It has a socialist political theme and proudly shows the Red Cross. Other characteristics of popular European destinations include museums, theatres and art galleries – particularly famous for their paintings (which can be covered in numerous languages).
When it comes to destinations outside of Europe, they tend to have different characteristics. They tend to be destinations with which people identify more strongly, and they also tend to offer a more distinct experience. For instance, places like Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, tend to attract both a peace-loving, green mindset, along with a vibrant, international culture. This is in contrast to, say, places in the UK like Cornwall, whose residents are traditionally more left wing.
These days, many people choose destinations based on activities and attractions. Tourism companies can now tailor packages to cater to tastes and interests of any type of visitor. For example, a family vacation can be tailored to include activities such as mountain biking, kayaking, white water rafting and even wine tasting. While these activities might not appeal to everyone, they represent great opportunities to create unique and personally themed vacations.