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Political and Values Impact on Destination Selection Insight for The Tourism Industry

The concept of political orientation and political values in consumer purchase decisions is not new. Political orientation, as well as gender, age, race and one's values are in play every day in the marketplace.

For years DMOs have used segmentation to develop target and attract specific visitor groups to destinations. However, rarely has segmentation cut across political lines. But destinations are part of our turbulent world shaped by political events. Most recently, the video and aftermath of George Floyd’s death, confederate monuments, Black Lives Matter, white supremacy, and many other issues shape our culture at large.

They also affect the local destination where such events are playing out on a regular basis. Whereas travelers used to look for local activities, the environment, pricing, and lodging, they now look beyond features, armed with perceptions shaped by events media has covered there. And such events and coverage both internally and externally are often beyond the control of a DMO. This past year alone, destinations have grappled with how to respond to local politics and values such as face masks and social distancing, and marches by Black and White activists.

The question is are travelers reacting and considering destination choices based on these activities (and their coverage) and if so, how can DMOs respond in ways that are both authentic and at the same time promote the attributes that drew visitors to this place before.

A traveler study was conducted to understand the degree that political orientation, gender, age, and race intersect with personal values to impact consumer choice on vacation destination selection. We hypothesized that since political orientation and values shape views about other consumer purchases, it would also influence travel destination selection. But how important are these issues in destination selection moving forward?

For years consumer values have shaped their purchasing decision of consumer products. According to the 2020 Consumer Culture Report, "71% of consumers prefer buying from companies aligned with their values, twenty-one percent of Baby Boomers surveyed say buying from brands that share their values and ideologies is important, with Generation Xers, this number rises to 50% and for Millennials, even more, 62% believe is it important." (5W Public Relations, 2020)

Our study resulted in some clear distinctions regarding destination choice once viewed through the lenses of political orientation, gender, age, and race

To find out more about our Political and Values Alignment Research and Strategy Program and how we can help your destination increase its competitiveness in this increasingly political marketplace, contact us. Carl or Lauren Schlau-


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