Pierce Brosnan, a.k.a. the fifth James Bond and the five-season Remington Steele actor, left Ireland as an 11-year-old boy. Never mind. Tourism Ireland brings him and his Irish brogue back 56 years later in a 0:56 sec. promotion for the emerald isle motherland. Shout out to Navan, County Meath (pop: 30,173). #FillYourHeartWithIreland racked up 3.3 million YouTube views in its first month.
Not stopping there, Ireland has another 2021 ambassador. On behalf of #FillYourHeartWithIreland, Liam Neeson wishes the world a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day from Ballymena, County Antrim (pop: 29,551).
A former fashion model turned actor, Josh Duhamel lives in Hollywood (ABC’s daytime soap opera All My Children and NBC’s Las Vegas), but calls Minot, North Dakota (pop: 48,261) home. He’s been working as a collaborator and spokesperson in a series of fun-to0-watch videos for North Dakota Tourism since 2013.
True to his roots, Duhamel touts the destination on talk shows, events, social media. He comes home to see family and friends and support local causes, even investing in North Dakota hospitality and tourism businesses. His star is still rising — the romantic drama Safe Haven just hit the Top 10 on Netflix. #NorthDakotaLegendary
Everybody loves Dolly Parton…and nobody more than the residents of Sevierville, Tennessee (pop: 16,743). In the Smoky Mountains, Dolly’s childhood home was a two-room log cabin with no electricity or running water. Naturally, being Dolly, she sweetly says they were rich in things money couldn’t buy — love, kindness, and understanding.
Seven miles along The Parkway, visitors can see the “Tennessee Mountain Home” replica and glittering memorabilia at Chasing Rainbows museum inside Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge. VisitMySmokies.com says there are over 1,000 cabins to rent for an authentic sense-of-place vacation stay.
Elvis fans all over the world understand the significance of Jan. 8, 1935, and so does the town of Tupelo, Mississippi (pop: 38,271), birthplace of the King of Rock ‘n Roll.
Visitors take a self-guided walking tour. There’s the two-bedroom cottage where Elvis was born, the hardware store where his mother, Gladys, bought a 10-year-old his first guitar, the Assembly of God church (pictured) where gospel music was an early influence, statues in his honor among the two dozen points. Wear your blue suede shoes.
In The Travel Vertical: How Did a Small Town in Rural Minnesota Get a Super Bowl Ad They Never Asked For? — The true story of when ‘Winonas Collide.” Why did actor Winona Ryder (Stranger Things on Netflix) visit her namesake town of Winona, Minnesota (pop: 26,854) to film a commercial and what did Visit Winona do about it?
If your small town is lacking a hometown celebrity, try a local mini-celebrity ambassador. The residents will enjoy it.