Demand-led tourism

2015-09-03 06:00

LAST weekend we were promoting the greater South Coast at the Getaway Show in Johannesburg. Before the show started, I was interested to find out from the public and the tourism trade about visitor trends and what consumer preferences currently are.

The show certainly exceeded our expectations in terms of attendance, but what was patently clear from exhibitors there, is that the economic squeeze has induced them to be very creative in the packaging and incentives they offer and to be demand (what the visitor wants) focused.

One of our members, who took an additional stand at the show, focused for example on packages relating to school groups and he reported he anticipates a large number of pupils coming down to his resort near Port Edward in the year ahead.

In speaking to inquirers at our stand, it became patently clear that the potential visitor is really shopping around for suitably priced family holidays. There also seems to be increased interest in camping and caravan destinations - it could be that expensive self-catering and formal accommodation may, for economic reasons, be steering South African holidaymakers to camp sites within our destination.

Visitors expect ease of comfort where they take their trip and when we explained our Sunny and Safe campaign to prospects, there seemed to be appreciation that we are doing something about the importance of visitor satisfaction.

We also plugged the Blue Flag and quality of our beaches and amenities to the public - what a pity it was that the water quality issue at Margate spewed into the media at the same time. We will be carefully monitoring this situation so that some sort of publicity can be attempted to convince doubters when the water quality is back at suitable levels.

There was definitely more interest in adventure and activity orientated experiences so certainly there could be more drive-outs to rural areas for thrill seeking. This aspect of our tourism sell locked in interest from the nationally respected leisure publication houses with whom we met and are going to do features on our district in the future.

Somebody asked, “does attendance at consumer shows work?” My response is an emphatic “yes” in that tourists are constantly reminded of our strong brand, provided with updated information about our attractions, products, services and experiences. They also act as a means of attracting new niches of visitors (motor sport fans to the Dezzi South Coast Raceway) to our area.

If one is not there, one is soon forgotten - we will not be a shrinking violet when it comes to presenting our wonderful tourism assets to the markets

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