10 Ways to Attract Tourists Locally to Your Museum or Attraction

Lauren Voges

August 27, 2020

Lockdowns may be lifting, but much of international travel is still grounded. So when you open the doors to your attraction again, the droves of international tourists that usually crowd your entrance will probably still be confined to their hometowns and exploring the sights there instead. 

Luckily, that’s exactly what the locals in your town or city will be doing: looking for cultural activities to do in their own backyard. So, how do you make sure the domestic tourists in your region are lining up outside your entrance? During Tiqets’ most recent webinar, we discussed a few creative ways to attract tourists – locally. 

1. Take advantage of new initiatives from your local government and hospitality sector

Governments, municipalities and hospitality sectors across the globe are developing and rolling out initiatives to encourage people to get back to culture. Some of their ideas to attract tourists more locally include: reducing fees to culture sites, offering holiday packages that are geared towards locals, and launching national tourism campaigns. 

In the Czech Republic, for example, nine cultural sites have reduced their entrance fees by 50% for local visitors. In Cyprus, themed mini-break packages that include accommodation and tickets for museums, theme parks or cultural monuments have been developed especially for locals. And in Israel, the government has launched a campaign that gives locals who book accommodation in Tel Aviv, free tours of the city, bicycle rental deals and buy-one-get-one-free deals for local museums and attractions.  

Prague’s Old Town Hall is one of the cultural sites with a 50% entrance discount.

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

Initiatives like this seek to strengthen domestic tourism by introducing locals to the hidden treasures in their own cities. Find out what your local government or hospitality sector is doing to encourage local tourism and see if you can partner with them on their initiatives. Your government’s tourism board website is the best place to start.

2. Adopt a sneak-peek or free-sample model

Another way to introduce local tourists to your attraction is to give them a “free sample” of what you have to offer. The Louvre in France is incentivizing bookings by offering free 20-minute visits of their permanent collection to French nationals.

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

Offering short visits is a great way for larger venues especially to pique the interest of visitors and entice them back for more. You can benefit even more from this tactic to attract local tourists if you allow visitors to extend their 20-minute visit or see other parts of your venue for a small fee.

Tourists in Paris can enjoy free 20-minute visits to the Louvre.

3. Explore the buy-one get-one free model

Some venues, like the Oceanário de Lisboa in Portugal, are offering a “one free child ticket per adult ticket” promotion for the month of June. The aquarium is a favourite amongst kids, and offering a deal like this allows the venue to support the local community without compromising too heavily on ticket sales.

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

This kind of model can be applied more liberally. For example, you could welcome back local visitors with a buy-one-get-one-free deal or a buy-two-get-one-free deal. You could also explore the option to allow visitors to buy one ticket for multiple visits throughout the year. 

The Oceanário de Lisboa in Portugal experimented with a new ticketing model.

4. Make sure you’re speaking the same language

Most guided tours are given in more widely spoken languages, like English or French, and not necessarily in the local language. Appeal more to local visitors by offering tours, guides and promotional information in their language. Dracula’s Castle in Romania has made their venue more approachable to local visitors by offering guided tours in Romanian for the first time. 

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

Reinforcing the message that your attraction is not only for international tourists but for locals too is essential to fostering local tourism. If you offer guided tours, make them available in the local language. If you’re sharing promotions, or debuting new exhibitions or venue features, share them in the local language. This will communicate to locals that your venue is for them, too. 

Dracula’s Castle in Romania now offers local language tours.

5. Be generous with your discounts 

The classic way to attract tourists: offer them a discount. The same goes for your local tourists. But at a time like this when many people have less cash at their disposal, a more generous discount is needed to get them through your doors. Take a leaf out of Xcaret’s book. This group of  amusement parks in Mexico is offering local residents a 40% discount to come and enjoy their facilities. 

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

Local visitors may need a little more convincing than international tourists to visit a tourist attraction around the corner from them. Make it easy for them to say yes to exploring their local surroundings by being generous with your discount for the first visit.

Xcaret is offering local residents a 40% discount to come and enjoy their facilities.

6. Reassure your customers 

Even though lockdown measures are being lifted, many people are still fearful of the spread of the coronavirus. That’s why the first step to welcoming back customers, local or international, is to rebuild their confidence around visiting public spaces.

Extrapolitan, an alliance of hop-on hop-off bus tour operators, shared their new safety measures with potential customers in a clear and entertaining fashion; they created a video that showed how their safety measures are being put into practice. “In the current situation, it’s essential to focus on reassuring our customers that there are safety measures in place,” explained Peggy Palmieri, International Sales Manager at Extrapolitan. The added benefit of a move like this is being able to share a sneak peek of your attraction through your safety video. 

“It’s essential to focus on reassuring our customers that there are safety measures in place” – Peggy Palmieri

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

Make sure that you not only implement coronavirus preventive measures at your venue, but that you also share these new measures with your customers in advance of their visit. You could create a video like Extrapolitan did, but you should also share your safety measures on your website and your social media channels. 

Got more questions about reopening? We’ve got answers to some of the top questions about reopening attractions.  

7. Tailor your offer to different visitor groups, like families or couples

If your usual target audience is international tourists, you may be used to creating broader marketing campaigns that speak to foreigners. Now that the focus is on the domestic market, it’s worth digging deeper into which audiences to target. 

Extrapolitan’s family-targeted tours are a great example of how you can tailor an experience to a certain audience. “Normally we offer hop-on, hop-off tours, but for this period, we decided to organise a non-stop tour for kids and families available by reservation only and for specific times. To make the tour more exciting we arranged kids activities and live entertainment. We got a lot of exposure for this project, and ultimately very good results! The tour was so popular, we have to add more to our schedule,” said Peggy. 

To be able to offer the kids activity packs and live entertainment, Extrapolitan partnered with Tapsy, a company that offers tours for families. For the first few weeks of the new tour, a Tapsy mascot was always on board to welcome families to the tour.

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

If you need to rethink your offer because of the dearth of international tourism, identify a target audience (couples, families, millennials, elderly people, children, etc.) and create an offer that caters to them specifically. 

You could also consider partnering up with another company to offer a more comprehensive product and to be able to share your new offer more widely – two streams of marketing is better than one, after all.

Extrapolitan has come up with a number of ways to attract local visitors.

8. Try something new to attract local tourists 

Bear in mind that local tourists will likely have different needs and wants to international tourists. 

Extrapolitan recognised that local tourists didn’t necessarily want a full-day bus tour, but that a shorter bus tour was of interest to them. In France, they also launched their panoramic tours: non-stop, short tours of Paris. To add some entertainment value to their panoramic tours, they hired guides who gave their tours in the local language, French, a first for the company. 

“Another target for us was couples. People miss going out for a drink or dinner in the evening, so we decided to come up with a tour for this market,” said Peggy. Extrapolitan came up with the idea to give evening bus tours in London, and they adapted the offer for that local market. There, they debuted a night tour with a bar on the bus to cater to millennials and couples who missed being able to go out for an evening. 

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

If ever there was a time to think outside of the box, this is it. Think about what your target audience might be missing during these strange times and see if your venue can offer a good replacement activity. Offering a night-out guided tour, extending your hours or setting up small evening events in your attraction is an excellent way to offer customers something to do in the evenings – seeing as dinner at a restaurant might not be an easy activity at the moment. 

It’s also worth considering how your local audience is different from your international audience: how much time do they have? Would a visit to your venue be a weekend activity or a holiday activity? These are useful questions to ask before committing to a new idea. 

9. Piggyback on existing ideas and initiatives

Got a public holiday coming up? Use it to inspire your next local tourism campaign!

Casa Batlló did this very well by creating a campaign around Saint George’s Day, which was celebrated on 23 April. In previous years, the famous Gaudi-designed house was decorated with red roses to commemorate Saint George’s Day. “As we couldn’t decorate the house this year, we opted for a social participation approach. Our team at Casa Batlló decided to encourage people throughout Catalonia to share their own homemade red roses on social media,” says Amilcar Vargas, Head of World Heritage Casa Batlló. 

The campaign was a great success; it even went viral on social media. This kind of brand awareness is essential to keeping your venue top of mind after lockdowns are lifted. 

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

Use existing initiatives like public holidays as a springboard for your next local tourism marketing campaign. You can use public holidays days to inspire marketing campaigns in a multitude of ways: offer a holiday-based discount, centre a competition around a public holiday or create an exhibition around a national initiative. As public holidays are often held at a national-level, this is especially good for marketing directly to your locals. 

Casa Batllo used a famous public holiday in Spain to catapult them into the social media spotlight.

10. Be the backdrop in someone’s viral video

Finally, you can also build local interest in your venue by creating awareness through virtual experiences. 

Casa Batlló chose to do this by playing host to a variety of events, including livestreamed visits by museum curators, yoga sessions with influencers and live concerts. This drummed up interested in their venue – on a local and international level.

How to apply this idea to attract tourists to your venue

Sharing your venue on a public platform or in a way that allows hundreds, or even thousands, of people to see it creates a sense of fame around your venue. If you can make your venue a feature in someone’s music video (à la the Louvre in Beyonce and Jay-Z’s “Apesh*t” music video) or organise an online event that takes place in your venue, this gives you a subtle way to share a sneak peek of your venue with both local and international customers and entice them into visiting. 


Reopening your venue soon? Check out these museums and attractions’ reopening strategies for inspiration.

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