Start increasing tourism with what you have
In the past, governments and others have badly misjudged the value of tourism. Tourism is now the fourth largest industry in Australia. It is a crucial forerunner to advancing economic development as it touches such a broad spectrum of business in the community. People are unlikely to relocate their business if they have never experienced the proposed location.
Regional tourism adds value to the business community, as well as the quality of life for residents. Local knowledge and learning are becoming more valued in the new economy. You can see this in viticulture, where wineries have a broad range of supplementary activities such as agricultural experiences, arts and crafts, galleries, festivals, tours and food experiences. Tourist activity also complements existing tourist infrastructure, and associated attractions induce visitors across a region.
Many tourism operators fail to understand the value of referral business and networks, like other industries. One person visiting a community can quickly lead to many hundreds of others visiting in the future.
Word-of-mouth is still the best and cheapest advertising. Personal recommendations to visit somewhere will happen if a person enjoys the visit and has enjoyed the hospitality they received. It also helps if they have good marketing collateral they would be proud to hand out to others they associate with or meet in their travels.
The importance of tourism
As Australia transitions to a more diversified service-based economy, tourism is becoming increasingly important, with the potential to be Australia’s fastest growing industry. Australia’s tourism Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose 7.4% in 2015–16, well ahead of the 2.3% growth rate for the broader economy.
Tourism Research Australia’s forecasts strong growth will continue, with showing total overnight tourism spending will increase to $196.3 billion by 2026–27, up from $96.8 billion in 2015–16. Tourism contributed 3.2% to national GDP in 2015–16 (up from 2.8% in 2011–12). Between 2011–12 and 2015–16, 6% more people were employed in tourism, the average revenue per business, therefore they, grew significantly (20%).
Between June 2012 and June 2016, the number of non-employing tourism businesses fell by 5.0% from 126,300 to 120,000. These declines were partially offset over the same period, by the following increases in employing businesses:
- Micro – up 0.5% from 90,400 to 90,800
- Small – up 2.5% from 52,300 to 53,500
- Medium – up 3.7% from 13,400 to 13,900
- Large – up 13.3% from 677 to 767.
Visitor information centres
The location of the Visitor Information Centre will assist significantly in lifting the profile of a community, both with locals and with tourists. Unfortunately, many of these centres are poorly placed within the community, and some are not deserving of a high profile.
There might not be crocodiles in your community, but there will be something of value.
Tourism is a ‘sleeping giant’ in many communities. This is particularly so when coupled with the many attractions located in the surrounding areas. What your community has to offer tourists will vary significantly with other regions. It should be noted tourists are not interested in local government boundaries. All tourism operators should be working on the bigger picture of regional tourism.
One of the most important tourist attractions is unspoiled countryside and many communities have it in abundance. Some are intact eighteenth, nineteenth or early twentieth-century ‘townscape’. They have a wide array of architecturally significant buildings many of which are or could be, open to the public.
The ‘Three Sisters’ at Echo Point in the Blue Mountains, can attract over one million visitors a year. Why haven’t we been able to get a significant number of them to go the extra distance and experience what is on offer on the other side of the Great Dividing Range? Where the ‘real’ Australia resides?
Optimism in regional communities can be maintained, despite prolonged droughts, with tourism. People yearning for a better lifestyle are fuelling the resurgence of travel even in times of adversity. Just waiting for developed is an avalanche of great tourism opportunities in Australia’s regional areas.
Tourism can create many new jobs
Everyone wants new jobs created. Unfortunately, communities are finding it difficult to implement their ideas and take advantage of the available opportunities. There is a reluctance by governments and people in communities to invest in the processes leading up to the implementation of the new tourism product. It is an aspect which Economic Gardening can address.
As with businesses, communities need to address the need for speed in the new global tourist trade. Community members tend to become disillusioned and will again settle back and ‘wait for the government if ideas are not implemented fast enough.
What is needed are people who can provide affordable, stress-free services to meet the growing need by having access to experience and practical people, ensuring the right skills are available to solve problems with a minimum of burden.
In some communities, ongoing prosperity and employment growth are dependent upon tourism industry growth. However, the increasing complexity of the new global economy is heightening frustration. There is, therefore, a need for relief through improved collaborative networking.
The opportunities are shifting to those people with new ways of thinking about tourism and working with tourists. It became more apparent tangibility needs to be added to support the development of regional tourism.
The business services industry is projected to sustain one of the fastest growth rates throughout the coming years, with tourism an integral part. Regardless of the economic cycles, there will always be people who think of new ideas. Finding new ways to do things has been the hallmark of Australia’s regional people.
Tourism can find new ways of doing business
New ways of doing business are advancing so fast worldwide, it is leaving the laggards behind, and it is the businesses who develop good tourism product who will have the most significant impact on the success of an individual community.
Many yearn for the freedom and fun associated with owning their own business. Few decide to do so, and even fewer make organisations they are responsible for, live up to dreams and expectations. The tourism industry could be providing the motivation they need to get going. My hope is, tourism will be of great help to people interested in developing their community and become a business owner in a regional town.
If you believe military strategists, winning requires the application of boldness, bravery, and aggression at just the right time. Tourism development is not much different. Today tourism is advancing on such a broad front even governments and corporations cannot keep up in all sectors.
Australia communities must stop living off illusionary short-term prosperity. They need to take action with tourism before it is too late to join the winner’s circle. Without taking a longer-term view, your approach to tourism development would not be complete.
Local government certainly has a role
Local government must become more concerned with creating tourism opportunities, not just roads, rates and rubbish. Most communities are unique! As an Australian regional city or town, there will be some unique features on which to build. These might include such things as the location, layout, heritage, natural resources and features. There are also exists an excellent complement of associated services relevant to enhance and grow tourism.
Tourists need reasons to stop and take a second look at a community and its attractions. Unless tourists or visitors are made aware of what is on offer, they will not readily see the aspects the local’s treasures. This simple fact makes the marketing to the local population and development of tourism and associated product integral to any strategy.
Waiting for all the theorists and paper shufflers to finish what they do, usually leads to frustration. If we wait for them to finish many people will have lost interest, even gone broke, and moved on. Remember many people enjoy ‘working things out’, so do not force them to implement because it may not be part of their makeup. Theorists must start to work with practical people who can implement things as they go along.
Looking for ways to leverage technology in tourism will enhance performance and reduce implementation timelines. A technologically savvy community can reap big dividends in today’s global tourism industry,
“The role of your community is to take visitors to your town from where they are to where they have never been”. Peter Sergeant
“The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch”. Jim Rohn