Promote NEW tour products as other countries successfully do!
Today, Alex Lubanski, from regional NSW, is a guest writer stating the case that tourism authorities need to pay more attention to regional tourism to ‘get back ‘ the lost tourist traffic.
THE OTHER SIDE OF AUSTRALIA
There are many reasons why there should be more emphasis placed on As promoting regional destinations in Australia. The most obvious and prominent reason is that the tourism authorities and industry principals here in Australia have been over-looking this important segment of the Australian tourist market.
Evidence, clearly shows, that they have been very busy over the past 25 years putting all their energy and promotional dollars into the destinations ‘that were included in the initial major promotional campaigns,’ i.e. Paul Hogan ads highlighting Sydney, Harbour Bridge, Opera House and then the Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley, then Cairns -Barrier Reef, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Coastal Victoria, Barossa Valley and Kakadu etc.
All these destinations have wonderful features which mainly depict coastal Australia and a ‘touch of inland Australia.’ Although these campaigns were directed at the universal markets, there was a strong emphasis on attracting the Japanese market, (which travels in large groups) and they certainly did achieve a fruitful outcome that produced a major increase of predominantly Japanese tourist traffic to Australia. So much so, that the major five star hotels refurbished their hotels to cater for the Japanese.
Needless to say, the following years enjoyed increased tourist traffic from a number of internationals markets, as a result of the Paul Hogan ads and progressive travel industry campaigns, which kept ‘piggy-backing’ on the Hoge’s theme. So much so that, everywhere you went on the planet ‘everyone’ could related to Hoge’s ‘putting a shrimp on the Barbie.’ What a wonderful success story!
Twenty-five years later, when you travel overseas, you still experience people remembering, Paul Hogan, and that shrimp on the barbie (and perhaps the Crocodile Dundee film). But they don’t seem to know anything else of any significance, about Australia, maybe Bondi Beach, the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Cairns and the Barrier Reef. And what is very obvious when analysing the recent and promotional campaigns, conducted by the tourist authorities, is that they are STILL promoting the same coastal regional destinations, that they did twenty-five years ago.
Coastal success but NO awareness of the ‘other’ side of OZ
Judging by the recent, FutureBrand survey results, Australia is lagging behind New Zealand, USA and South American countries in areas categories of scenic beauty, cultural – historic experiences, beaches, authentic culture, shopping and outdoor activities and facilities. In fact, in this survey, Australia did NOT top any category although they did achieve the best BRANDED country title.
Based on these survey results, I believe Australian tourist authorities and industry principals have to ‘change’ their mind-set, from promoting ‘just our coastal attributes,’ (which have been ‘flogged-to-death’) and acknowledge the fact that, regional Australia has the attributes that can match or better those of the countries that are attracting the 43% of lost tourist traffic, that Australia has failed to keep!
It is clear what the Australian tourist authorities are achieving from their most recent and ongoing promotional campaigns, therefore they must address the areas that are the success factors for all the other countries, which are obviously ‘doing it right’.
Our regional product can re-invigorate interest from our major markets
In my thirty years promoting tourism development and packaging tour products internationally, I can honestly attest that Australia has ‘an untold wealth of exciting, exotic and scenic features ‘ that have NOT been exposed to the universal markets, (certainly not by the tourist authorities to date, because they have been too busy promoting what they have been promoting for the past 25 years – ‘Coastal Australia’).
The majority of these ‘unrecognised’ attributes are located in regional Australia, and relate particularly to our pioneering history, cultural history and our ‘unique’ flora and fauna. Regional destinations in Australia hold the key to ‘producing NEW exciting tour experiences,’ that will re-invigorate interest from our major markets, because they will feature the ‘something different’ that our competitors ARE providing to global markets, and as a result, they have successfully attracted the tourist that we take for granted will support our destination.
As every astute travel industry principal knows the global markets are continually changing, as do industry trends, therefore we must keep up with the trends and changes by presenting NEW destination products, that will tantalize the appetites of our current major markets and attract new markets as well.
In a recent work experience in regional NW – NSW, I had the opportunity to present a ‘report’ that highlighted the fact that the state tourism authority had been remiss in their address to regional tourism development, and as a result of this ‘paper’ the authority acknowledged that they were not aware of the enormous tourism potential that existed in regional NSW, and embarked on a new advertising campaign to accentuate the qualities of outback tourism and highlight the exciting features that the regional destinations had to offer tourists including our own domestic market.
Although this campaign was short lived, it did have an impact on public awareness which was measured by surveys taken at Regional Tourism Offices. This goes to show that the principal tourist authorities are NOT fully attuned as to what the outback regions have to offer tourists, (again, because they have been adamant about promoting the already well known coastal tourist destinations) and the ‘treasures’ that these regions hold. And needless to say, if the tourist authorities express an interest in promoting regional tourism, then it will be in the interest of these communities to provide tour products and services for tourist and capitalize on the economic benefits that tourism generates in these ‘dying communities.’ This factor, is another ‘cog- in- the-wheel’ of the tourism development process in regional Australia, at the same time providing the universal markets with NEW tourist destination product.
Understanding that there are a number of tour operators that specialize in ‘outback experience tours,’ there needs to be MORE promotional support from the respective state and federal tourism authorities to open more tourism doors and expand on a ‘total spectrum’ of quality tourism products that are waiting to be found in regional Australia. Tourism Authorities should understand that they have been ‘riding-on-the –pigs-back,’ promoting the coastal features for that long that these campaigns are becoming repetitive and they are NOT tantalizing the interests of the universal markets any longer.
Alex’s comments tie in with the frustration expressed over the lack of initiative from bureaucrats in relation to the Aboriginal Outback Experience Super Highway. We’d love to hear from other regional tourism destinations or industry leaders on this issue??