Growing Destinations

Growing Destinations

Although the private sector accommodates, feeds and entertains the visitor, it is the myriad of items handled by local government – from road quality to street cleanliness – that can influence how long a visitor will stay, how much they will spend, whether they will return, and whether they will tell others about it.

A destination can be a city or town, or a geographic region and the ‘experience’ that most travellers seek will often involve several destinations. Their overall experience will be determined by a complex range of behavioral and physical elements, including satisfaction of expectations, information fulfilment, transport, accommodation, dining, shopping, a welcoming host community, security and other services. The key to destination planning and management is to understand what today’s consumer seeks and the aspirations they wish to fulfil. Finding the right market segment/s that will best respond to a destination ‘offer’, and delivering relevant products and experiences, is fundamental to success.

Previously, destinations tended to focus on promotion to maximize visitation. Councils and tourism organizations now appreciate the need to better manage the whole visitor experience. Destinations that have undergone visual degradation and/ or have lost their sense of identity through inappropriate planning, development and management, are being increasingly rejected by consumers, in their quest for authenticity.

Tourism areas now need to consider consumer research, strategic planning, industry structures, leadership development, crisis management and environmental protection in an effort to build a sustainable industry. Above all, development of a sustainable destination must include the needs and aspirations of the local community.

It should be noted that not all regions can be, or should be, tourism destinations. Just as every region does not have the qualities to be an agricultural or manufacturing center, a community needs to carefully evaluate its assets to determine whether tourism is a viable option.

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