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Should tourist boards have sole responsible for destination marketing?

There is an argument that says national tourist boards (NTB) should be left to market destinations without potentially contradictory messages being issued by private sector marketing groups (PSMG).

But it’s not a view that Kamageo subscribes to. Instead, we believe the potential for them to work side-by-side, in union, offers the very best opportunity for increasing tourism to a destination.

1. Budget

The potential to increase the overall spend on behalf of the destination is obvious, with the PSMG ideally topping up funds allocated by central government.

2. Different Target Audiences

Due to their national role, the NTB is likely to have a mandate to market all levels of the country’s tourism sector from homestays, back-packing and self drive, all the way up to high-end luxury.

At the same time, the PSMG is highly likely to be composed of predominantly higher-end safari operators and accommodation owners, therefore they will want to focus their efforts exclusively on this segment.

Having the two working alongside one another, allows budgets to be effective split and targeted across all required sectors. So for example unsocial media terms, the NTB could target Instagram and TikTok for younger adventurous audiences, whilst the PSMG leans towards Facebook activity as this is the domain of older consumers who are perhaps more time-rich and have more disposable income.

3. Balancing Trade v Consumer marketing

Dependant upon the destination, there may be different priorities between trade and consumer marketing. Again, having both NTB and PSMG allows flexibility in the approach.

For example, if the destination is well known and used by high-end tour operators, this does not mean that mass market operators are as aware. And for PSMG members they are more likely to have existing relationships with the trade, as in the main they favour high-end properties. So the PSMGs probably favour consumer comms over trade marketing.

4. Coordination

Ensuring there is no duplication of efforts and that each knows what the other is doing, is absolutely key. That's why we always encourage NTB’s to be active members of the PSMG.

Ideally the same marketing agency must coordinate the efforts of both, to implement both parties differing needs whilst ensuring a consistent, synergized message for the destination. Take the social media example above.

5. Implementation timetables.

With less bureaucracy, the PSMG is probably able to respond far quicker to changing market conditions, allowing for a long term strategic approach to be matched with highly tactical campaigns.

Overall, we'd actually go as far as to say that NTBs should actively encourage PSMGs, potentially utilising existing organisations such as tour operator or hotelier associations.

If you'd like to discuss these matters further, please do contact Tim Henshall, via

Kamageo is a UK-based tourism marketing agency, dedicated to Africa. With 20 years experience, we are experts at assessing tourism offerings and consumer segmentation, as well as implementing highly effective marketing communications. Kamageo has already helped significantly increase visitor numbers to a dozen African destinations.


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