Planning in tourism

2017-04-20 06:00

THE year 2017 is the International Year for Sustainable Tourism and last week at the National Local
Government Tourism Conference in Johannesburg the theme was
“Tourism Planning is Everybody’s Business”.

Many hundreds of public and private sector practitioners attended the two-day conference during which a number of presenters motivated the importance of planning with implementation as opposed to plans being paper and just that.

It became apparent that in many instances plans have been regurgitated rather than being aligned to the dynamism of change, particularly within tourism markets.

Here on the South Coast and our rural areas, all tourism related planning has to take into account market demand factors and the interests and needs of the main markets segments and niches (e.g. adventure and cultural heritage) if we are to assist in creating or maintaining sustainable livelihoods.

There have been significant budget cuts within organs of state and including those in the tourism and leisure sector. This reality then poses challenges for both the public and private sector to take practical and cost effective steps to ensure that amenities and experiences meet consumer expectations.

I have always believed in simple solution finding and if things work or are not broken, do not change things and those vital aspects of infrastructure that are under duress and need upgrades should be attended to with urgency.

This is not rocket science just practical approaches to things that form the basis of our tourism product mix and the management thereof.

Over about 20 years I have studied tourism plans that have often sat as documentation for far too long. At conference it was made clear that if things have not been done by now maybe they should be discarded or actually activated once and for all.

The era of over-ambitious wish lists has come to an end and local authorities have been tasked to
focus on doable and achievable projects and in particular providing user friendly tourism support infrastructure.

We as an organisation support a dualistic approach whereby we encourage improving of what we have and at the same time enhancing opportunity for emerging tourism practitioners. Financial resources are pivotal if we wish to fast track these multi-dimension development outcomes.

Our destination is blessed with substantial tourism assets and potentials and these assets highlighted within holistic tourism planning I believe will underpin the future path of our valuable tourism economy. I think we are on the right path in this regard.

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