Despite significant resources being invested in touring routes round Australia, research for Cross Border Development of Outback Tourism – part of the Tourism White Paper Implementation Plan – has identified the following issues:
1)There are research gaps re: the changing nature of the drive market and the needs and motivations of visitors, awareness of touring routes and whether visitors rate touring routes as attractions in their own right or as a means to reaching an end destination.
2)Do we know what visitors actually think of touring routes – whether they are important to travellers and how do they influence decisions about where to travel?
3)Best practice product development and marketing experience from both overseas and Australia is not being documented or shared between the states or regions.
4)Cross-border joint marketing and development initiatives need to be fostered, supported and resourced.
5)A national focus is needed to highlight to international markets the significant touring routes that already exist.
6)There is currently little research available to track visitor flows and movements.
7)Brochures do not give info on outdoor living protocols or bush camping skills.
8)Are we making assumptions about what travellers might want from these themed routes?
The possible impact of these issues:
1)Poor knowledge of the characteristics and needs of drive markets can lead to poor community investment decisions in corridor and route planning.
2)The lack of a national drive tourism focus creates potential confusion for both the travel industry and international visitors.
3)Poor documentation of successful drive corridors and routes means that best practice knowledge and experience is not being shared.
4)Although some successful projects exist, the lack of collaborative marketing acts to reduce route performance and does not maximise the use of scarce funds.
Key outcomes from research like this should include:
-preparation of strategic plans
-better informed industry/communities working together
-improved policy alignment at all levels of government
-improved access to resources/support for communities
-a sense of forward action and leadership; identification of a project champion and broker to drive implementation.