When a town lost its tourism

2016-05-05 06:00

A FEW years ago, a seaside town on the south-east coast of England hosted an annual festival, which, to all intents and purposes, kept the town’s tourism profile and economy intact and in the summer, the town retained its seasonal popularity.

Then a few unfortunate things came into play. Firstly, the local and younger populace with a propensity for larger than acceptable appetites for lager sought fit to behave rather badly during one festival.

Then the ever present online whiners in their terraced houses and similar mentality added their often unsubstantiated opinions on the internet and the town was being talked down by the very people whose local economy depended a great deal on tourism.

Unfortunately, for the town the marketing executives, representing the principal event sponsor while scouring the internet to assess the publicity value of the festival, also noted the negativity emanating from its locals.

The rest is history, the sponsors took their money to the west of the UK, the event did not manage to secure confidence from new sponsors, was canned and the tourist decided to go have beach holidays in other parts of Kent, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. Needless to say the town has since struggled to get back on its tourism feet.

It just goes to show how easily locals can through ill-conceived comment on the internet shoot their town and in the economic foot - and that costs jobs.

If a host community constructively addresses its shortcomings but at the same time talks up the merits of their destination at all times, there is a recipe for success in leisure and tourism.

In the U.S. they have numerous spring break festivals for thousands of exuberant students and through tough enforcement and controls have turned many destinations into multi-million-dollar recipients of tourism revenues which revert to the local businesses.

One seldom sees a seaside town in Florida being assassinated on the internet by locals. They see the value, join hands with the authorities and adopt a positive approach to their event programmes. Their winning approach is the way to go because the big sponsors see their towns as places to do business with and promote in.

Even in the good old RSA event successes abound - why? Because of a can-do, want-to-do approach and it is catchy. We on the South Coast are an ideal events destination so I guess the U.S. way is the only approach we should embrace for our paradise.

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