Over the last year Victoria has had 17.9 million domestic visitors (24% of the market) both into and within the state and they have spent over $7.1 billion here. Tourism Vic has actively promoted regional destinations in the March quarter with visitors from Queensland up 52% and from NSW up 14.6%. Well established tourism areas like the Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs and the Ranges had an18.3% increase on the previous year – likewise the Goldfields region was up 2.7%. (July 2004 Newsletter Tourism Victoria)
This is the market into which the Central Gippsland hosted group tour packages have been launched. We have been watching this ‘ground breaking’ product development effort over the past 9-12 months and believe good results are also possible for a much less well established tourism area. What has been done – in line with what the marketing gurus say – is ‘remove the barriers’. They have linked many activities/small businesses and made it easy for the region to offer customers a complete experience (or tourism product) to buy!
Linking interesting activities, a good feed and warm, friendly hosts, aiming to do their very best to entertain guests, should bring excellent word of mouth promotion. Tourism Officer Frank Norden, together with volunteer Bev Simpson and a former associate, Coach Tour Operator Barb Morris, have spent upwards of 12 months doing the ground work for the Group Tour Project.
(Bev has done it all before with her award-winning camp oven cooked meals for coaches at Wallaby Rise, Lake Glenmaggie and Barb, of Pelican Tours, Nar Nar Goon, has worked with Bev for many years and knows her work ethic and high standards)
Bev, Barb and Frank have spoken with many small businesses in the area, working out interesting combinations of activities and meals; costs and commissions; running to ground suitable tour guides and deciding who could best take bookings and act as ‘anchorman’ for all parties involved. Frank has produced the brochure and the Shire has sent it out to targeted coach companies and to likely tour groups.
Several of the tours have been trialled under these expert eyes and a learning curve is underway, but, as Bev says the most important bit is to do your very best, be genuinely warm, friendly and hospitable and have a bit of fun! There will be a close watch to make sure any learning curve ‘wrinkles’ are ironed out promptly so the all important word of mouth promotion between coach operators and tourists mushrooms!
The colourful brochure has quickly received good feedback, prompting the question Why hasn’t this done before? BUT Bev is telling people involved, don’t expect people to start streaming through your doors just because you have a brochure out there!!!!!! There will probably be some early response but there is often a lag of 6 -12 months before word gets around and the bulk of bookings actually come on stream