"One of the boldest tourism campaigns yet devised" - The Guardian.
Over the past five years, the number of tourists in the Faroe Islands has increased significantly. The many tourists created a paradoxical problem for the Faroe Islands Tourism Board, Visit Faroe Islands. The country's infrastructure and natural environment had a hard time keeping up with the increase in tourist numbers, and the tourism industry started to become more and more unpopular among the Faroese locals. So how could Visit Faroe Islands continue to develop tourism without destroying the foundation on which it rests?
The creative solution consisted of a closure of the main tourist attractions in Faroe Islands for tourists for an entire weekend. Instead, the country was open to ‘voluntourists’ who could visit the Faroe Islands at their own expense and work alongside locals on maintaining the islands' trails, lookout points, signage and fences.
Despite a media budget of DKK 0, the story reached 511 news media with a total online readership of 3.7 billion and 34 million social media actions.
In less than a week, 3,500 people had signed up, and over the weekend, ten concrete maintenance projects were carried out with 100 volunteers from 25 different countries. The locals' perception of the tourism industry improved by 15 percentage points, from 56% to 71% in favour of tourism (measured year-on-year).
The campaign resulted in a relatively high increase in tourism of six percent, equivalent to 12,000 people. Economically, this means an increased turnover in the Faroe Islands of more than 165 million Danish kroner (over 22 million Euros).
The initiative has become a recurring event in the Faroe Islands and has helped inspire other tourist boards in the world to create similar initiatives.
"Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism" was named one of the 10 most innovative initiatives for the planet in 2019 by the World Economic Forum.
“Other destinations will follow Faroe Islands' lead” - World Economic Forum.
Please tell us how the brand purpose inspired the work
The purpose of Visit Faroe Islands is to market the Faroe Islands as a travel destination and to ensure a sustainable tourism development.
One of the cornerstones of our sustainable destination management strategy is to make sure that a high percentage of our citizens see tourism as a net positive, because local support for tourism is a key element for the future success of the Faroese tourism industry. Visit Faroe Islands wants locals to recognise the material and non-material value of tourism, and that it is a force for good in our society.