How do you attract more passengers and tourists? The question on everybody’s mind was answered by a senior panel at the World Routes Strategy Summit in Durban, South Africa yesterday.
A number of crucial ingredients were put forward although the recipe will be different every time. “There is no magic bullet,” said Tim Jones, general manager, Asia and Strategic Partnerships, Tourism Australia. “You just have be consistent in everything you do.”
Consistency is easier to achieve when playing to a destination’s unique strengths. Puerto Rico’s many influences provide a rich cultural flavour. Scotland is the home of golf and the Loch Ness monster. These advantages will never change and provide a clear direction for future growth.
Other best practices include measurement and technology. Key indicators must always be monitored while social media has become critical to brand and reputation. “People no longer travel, they experience,” said Mari Jo Laborde, chief marketing and sales officer, Puerto Rico Tourism Company. “And social media has become the main channel to share that experience.”
Dr Adam Wu, chief operating officer, China Business Network, suggested that official travel advisories can be even more of an influencer. A strong relationship with governments is therefore essential to sustainability.
In fact, partnership across the board was the deemed the key ingredient for success. Even a small destination can use partnerships to create something special. Airlines, airports, governments and suppliers along the value chain must work together to ensure price becomes a secondary consideration.
Dr Mike Cantley, chairman, VisitScotland, stressed the huge benefits – economic and social – that arise from a strong tourism sector, pointing to Scottish tourism’s tagline: tourism is everyone’s business.
But perhaps Michael Manuyakhlu, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, KwaZulu-Natal summed up the situation best: “Visitors must be treated like Kings and Queens, wherever they come from.”