City votes to change tourism brand­ing

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Times News - Taelor Pelusey

Longheld con­cerns the re­gion’s over­all tourism brand­ing is el­e­vat­ing Mar­garet River and hurt­ing Bus­sel­ton, Duns­bor­ough and Yallingup have prompted a shake-up of the City of Bus­sel­ton’s mar­ket­ing strate­gies.

The City this week re­viewed its sup­port for the um­brella “Mar­garet River re­gion” term and unan­i­mously voted to in­stead adopt “Bus­sel­ton-Mar­garet River re­gion” for the City’s pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial.

“Con­cerns . . . have been raised through var­i­ous fo­rums that the sub-brands of Bus­sel­ton, Duns­bor­ough and Yallingup, in­tended to ac­com­pany the Mar­garet River Re­gion brand, have not been promi­nent in mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, po­ten­tially re­sult­ing in re­duced or lost aware­ness of th­ese des­ti­na­tions,” City com­mu­nity and com­mer­cial ser­vices di­rec­tor Naomi Searle said.

Sup­port for the cur­rent strat­egy was sig­nalled in 2014 on the ba­sis sub-brands for Bus­sel­ton, Duns­bor­ough and Yallingup would be de­vel­oped, but in the three-plus years since, the Mar­garet River-Bus­sel­ton Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion’s com­mit­ment to that con­di­tion has been fre­quently ques­tioned by pun­dits north of the bor­der.

A re­cent City-ini­ti­ated sur­vey of­fered hard ev­i­dence sup­port­ing anec­do­tal con­cerns, but MRBTA chief ex­ec­u­tive Claire Sav­age down­played the find­ings, say­ing she un­der­stood “there was only a cou­ple of com­ments which re­ferred to the use of the re­gional brand”.

Ms Sav­age de­fended the Mar­garet River re­gion brand­ing and said it was de­vel­oped af­ter ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion and used in mar­kets where aware­ness was still de­vel­op­ing, specif­i­cally in­ter­state and over­seas.

“Where aware­ness was higher, such as the in­trastate mar­ket, or within the re­gion it­self, town names would take prece­dence,” she said.

“We are very sup­port­ive of the in­di­vid­ual towns be­ing used in mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions where ap­pro­pri­ate.”

The City’s re­newed fo­cus will not over­ride the MRBTA’s brand­ing, but would be con­sid­ered an “ex­ten­sion”.

The Mar­garet River re­gion brand­ing will still be used by the City, but only for spe­cific in­ter­na­tional mar­kets un­til Bus­sel­ton’s brand aware­ness im­proves.

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