Maps for 5 types of tourism marketing

Since 2013 I’ve created custom maps for clients from around the world in a variety of industries. I particularly enjoy creating maps for the tourism industry, because I love travelling and learning about new places. Over the years I’ve discovered at least 5 main types of tourism maps.

1. Marketing for economic development

Often a city’s economic development department, or local tourism marketing organizations, need maps to promote the potential of the area to prospective businesses. They want to bring awareness of the area’s attractions, community resources, and events to bring businesses here or encourage people to move here. These maps might be in industry magazines or part of other print or social campaigns.

Some different types of maps would help get the message out that this area is connected, growing, and vibrant. For example, we might design a map showing Waterloo Region’s central location and airport and highway connections:

locator map of Waterloo Region in southern Ontario
Waterloo Region locator map of Golden Horseshoe - in Explore Waterloo Region magazine

We might design a map showing transit connections within the Region, or business improvement areas:

overview map of Cambridge, Ontario
overview map of Waterloo Region cities and townships

2. Destination marketing to tourists

Of course the maps above can also be used to promote tourism, showing communities and tourist information centres and attractions – at a regional level or a more detailed view of a community:

map of Annapolis County communities and attractions
map of Annapolis Royal sights

Maps to promote the area as a tourist destination can be more detailed. They show locations of attractions and events of interest to tourists, and help people explore your community for day-trips or longer visits. These maps can also help residents know what’s going on and help them explore their own communities.

Mississauga 2020 Visitor Guide map

We can design maps to promote an entire region as a tourist destination, with an overview of the area but not as detailed as a city map:

East Central California recreation map
tourist map of Oahu

3. Marketing for tour companies and travel agents

Sometimes marketing is aimed at tour operators and travel agents, to help them learn about your destination:

map of New Providence Islands in The Bahamas
map of parks in Kenya

or to give them a high-level overview of the area to plan your journeys:

relief and bathymetric map of the Caribbean

4. Sponsored local business or business improvement area maps with ads

These maps can often be found in local businesses or Chamber of Commerce offices. They are usually large folding city maps, with business locations on the map in addition to tourist points of interest. These maps are sponsored by local businesses to advertise on the map. They are provided free and are a way of promoting local businesses while providing a service to tourists.

5. City walking maps for tourists

These are similar to sponsored maps but without ads. Some cities or tourism marketing groups create these maps and add information and resources for tourists on the back of the map, such as accommodations, events, restaurants, entertainment, etc. So they do promote local businesses but are not sponsored. Think of Lonely Planet maps, which show hotels and restaurants but don’t receive payment in exchange for the listings – the information is provided as a service to tourists and these maps are created as part of the marketing plan for the city or organization.

Walking map of Harbourfront in Toronto
Boston walking map

This brief overview illustrated different ways to use maps to promote tourism.

If your organization wants to attract visitors or businesses, maps can highlight your message and tell people what’s great about your community.

When you’re ready to tell stories about your communities, contact me for a free consultation to see how maps can help.

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