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Memorable Tourism Slogans and the Stories Behind Them

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You’ve heard of “I Love New York” and Las Vegas' catchphrase, “What happens here, stays here,” but do you know which Baltic nation is “best enjoyed slowly,” or why El Salvador is known as “the 45-Minute Country”? Cities, states, and countries around the world try various ways to attract more visitors and boost tourism, but some lesser-known destinations have to work harder at it than others. There’s nothing like a good slogan to capture attention, and these are six of the most interesting tourism slogans we’ve seen — and the stories behind them.

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El Salvador: The 45-Minute Country

Panoramic view of volcano San Vicente and the valley below near San Salvador in El Salvador.
Credit: moxelotle/ iStock

Big things come in small packages. That would appear to be the rationale behind El Salvador’s slogan, which aims to convey that most attractions in the country are within driving distance. In reality, 45 minutes may be pushing it, but Central America's smallest country really is pint-sized at just 60 miles wide and 160 miles long. No matter where you are in El Salvador, there’s a good chance that the capital and largest city, San Salvador, is no more than an hour away.

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Nebraska: Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone

Aerial view of Dismal River in Nebraska Sand Hills near Thedford.
Credit: marekuliasz/ iStock

At least they’re honest. After placing last on a list of states people wanted to visit four years in a row, the Cornhusker State went the self-deprecating route with this tagline. The Nebraska Tourism Commission acknowledged that the Midwestern mainstay “may not be on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit," but also made it known that “if you like experiences that are unpretentious and uncomplicated or if you enjoy escaping the big city life for moments of solitude in the open plains, creating your own fun, or exploring the quirkiness the state has to offer, chances are, you will like it here.”

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Latvia: Best Enjoyed Slowly

Aerial view of the town with Dome cathedral and Daugava river in Riga city, Latvia.
Credit: RossHelen/ Shutterstock

Some countries evoke thrills and excitement; others, rest and relaxation. Latvia belongs to the latter camp, and the small Baltic country capitalized on that with its tourism slogan, introduced in 2017 to boost the country's lagging tourism industry. The “best enjoyed slowly” tagline invites potential visitors to change the tempo of their lives and indulge in the kind of “unhurried leisure” that can only be found in Latvia. This philosophy is part of the slow travel movement, which promotes spending a longer time in each place in order to have a more authentic, immersive, and sustainable experience.

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New Mexico: Land of Enchantment

Hot air balloons over the city of Rio Grande, New Mexico.
Credit: gmeland/ Shutterstock

If you've ever driven through the Southwest, you've probably seen New Mexico’s eye-catching license plates. The state has been known as “the Land of Enchantment” since 1935, when the tourist bureau used the phrase in a brochure; the nickname was added to license plates six years later. They didn't coin the phrase, however. That honor belongs to journalist Lilian Whiting, whose 1906 book The Land of Enchantment: From Pike's Peak to the Pacific used the phrase to describe the states of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and California more generally. And interestingly, “Land of Enchantment” wasn't the state's first attempt at a motto — it had previously tried to brand itself “the Sunshine State” before Florida did likewise, and also tried out “the Cactus State” and “the Spanish State.” New Mexico formally adopted its current nickname in 1999, and anyone who's been there can see why — the state’s landscape truly is breathtaking.

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Reno, Nevada: The Biggest Little City in the World

View of downtown Reno at dusk with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background.
Credit: Will Casaceli/ Shutterstock

Las Vegas may steal the spotlight, but it isn't the only place in Nevada to spend some time (and money) at the casino. Reno has never been shy about its relative stature, and for well over a century, it has actually embraced it. The city isn't alone: Memphis, Wichita, and Sioux Falls likewise adopted the “biggest little city” moniker at various points throughout the late 19th century, though some only claimed that title within their state or region. The same applied to Reno, which a reporter first referred to as the “Biggest Little City on the Pacific Coast” in 1901.

That was altered to “The Biggest Little City on the Map” nine years later, when a major boxing match drew thousands of visitors to a city that, at the time, was home to only around 10,000 residents. Finally, “Biggest Little City in the World” officially became the city's slogan following a contest in 1929. The nickname was added to Reno’s famous arch in 1936 and has remained there ever since.

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Virginia: Virginia Is for Lovers

Downtown Richmond cityscape over Main Street during sunset.
Credit: ESB Professional/ Shutterstock

You’ve laughed at the T-shirts and maybe even bought one yourself, but have you ever wondered why Virginia is for lovers? The answer has a bit of a Mad Men flair to it: The slogan was created by the George Woltz of Martin & Woltz Inc. advertising agency in 1969, by a copywriter named Robin McLaughlin, who was paid $100 per week at the time. The original idea was a bit more broad: An ad featuring the beach would read, “Virginia is for beach lovers,” while one set in the mountains would read, “Virginia is for mountain lovers.”

Love was very much in the air at the time, with Woodstock taking place that summer and the hippie movement in full swing, so evoking the zeitgeist only made sense for a state hoping to draw younger visitors. McLaughlin’s bosses shortened it, and the enduring slogan has adorned mugs, hats, and all manner of other souvenirs for more than half a century. “Virginia is for lovers,” which is now the longest-running state tourism slogan in the country, was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009 — an accolade that might even impress Don Draper.

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