Modernising our tourism paradigm

2016-08-25 06:00

RECENTLY our marketing team held a think tank based on a concept called “Operation VIBE”, which stands for Very Important Booster Exercise. The purpose of the session was to have a hard look at modern trends in our tourism­ sector and in particular the bulk of our market - South Africans - their needs and expectations.

Based on demographic realities the vast majority of our population are within the younger and mainly urban cohort groups and for us to strategise for existing and future markets we need to get into these consumer profiles before our competitors do.

Certain market segments within a new paradigm include New Horizon Families, High Life Enthusiasts and To Do Mzanzi Families who more often than not have high levels of disposable income and who respond to trendy products, brands and lifestyle experiences.

This growing set of visitors has great expectation in terms of cuisine, hospitality and to be seen places and to this end if we are to meet with that demand, tourism enterprises need to consider modernity in the presentation of their properties and how they entertain and host.

Towns like Margate, I believe, have immense potential to establish themselves as “Sandton-on-Sea” destinations for these big spend markets. Added to this, our beach amenities, commercial concessions and urban design features will also need to match any expectation of standards from such visitors.

Durban and Cape Town have made huge strides in doing this and we need to follow suit, albeit on a smaller scale.

Bob Dylan’s words, “the times they are a changing” ring true and our tourism has to embrace this reality because it is better to secure responsible new main markets than allowing things to slowly slip under the waves and end up as a bejewelled must go to place that was. Modernity of place and attitude is the key.

Luckily our diverse geography still allows us to successfully accommodate the broader set of our traditional markets which still has a rightful place in our visitor mix but I believe that in attending to things that have worked for many years and opening ourselves to meeting contemporary leisure and social preferences we can create a win-win for our tourism sector.

These are challenging but exciting times so we look forward to taking those roads often and less travelled to ensure that vibrant consumer focussed tourism is the outcome for the decades ahead.

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