In these turbulent times, the government of Japan is equally concerned about containing the virus while reviving the economy. Yet, offering domestic travel incentives to boost consumer spending in times of pandemic inevitably leads to confusion and counterproductive results. It’s like trying to entice the fish to come out from the corals at the time when the sharks are looking for prey. How can the government stimulate domestic travel demand while keeping risk in check? Increased movement of people across prefectures undoubtedly would generate consumer spending. It would also increase the risk factor of contracting the virus and require additional government spending on testing and tracking down contacts. Exploring the local cuisine is at the heart of exploring a new place. Whether you are in need of refreshment after the long climb back down from Yamadera temple, or simply eager to try local food, chances are that you will find yourself unarmed surrounded by other unmasked strangers. That is why we started thinking about a campaign to encourage domestic travel only in the aftermath of the Coronavirus.
Step 1 – Location, Location, Location
We started our passive journey by reviewing tons of brochures and maps to remind ourselves of the places that make Yamagata prefecture a hidden gem in the mountains of Japan. Our guiding question throughout the research was – “Why should you visit Yamagata?” Students were asked to name the characteristic places, activities, historical sites, and foods of the region and develop a mind map.
Step 2 – Reuse and Recycle
We recycled the original activity by re-categorizing the categories into Do, See, Join, Visit, Eat in an effort to have kids look at things from another angle.
Step 3 – Designing and Visualizing
Based on our research, we started designing one-of-a-kind logo for Yamagata prefecture along with the content of the booklet.
With the current travel restrictions in place, this activity allows us to pause, reflect, think about our physical and human world, and how they are all connected. Based on our reflections we can then decide on our next steps together. What’s important is using the practice of seeking to understand and appreciate the place we live in and come from to communicate big ideas and create lasting change.
To be effective, travel campaigns need to transcend the physical and enter the digital world. And that’s how our digital campaign “Visit Yamagata” was conceived. The process started with location/activity selection, moved onto script-writing and storyboard development, and culminated with video-recording and editing.
Behind the scenes: