Tourism plan: The key to suc­cess for any des­ti­na­tion

Hospitality News Middle East - - CONTENTS - • Govern­ment agen­cies • Ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions • Hu­man cap­i­tal • In­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tions • In­ter­na­tional trans­porta­tion • Lo­cal trans­porta­tion • Mar­ket­ing & pub­lic re­la­tions • Health­care in­fra­struc­ture • Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion • Se­cu­rity • Fi­nan­cial in­fras­truc

When well main­tained and de­vel­oped, the tourism sec­tor can el­e­vate any des­ti­na­tion, help­ing it to ac­quire worl­drenowned sta­tus, at­tract mil­lions of vis­i­tors each year and gen­er­ate bil­lions of dol­lars in in­come. Ralph Nader, CEO of Am­ber Con­sult­ing, shows us what’s be­hind the ‘vi­sion’

Ex­perts agree that tourism is one of the largest rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing in­dus­tries world­wide and the fastest grow­ing in­dus­try in the world when it comes to safe­guard­ing a sus­tain­able fu­ture. To­day, tourism ac­counts for 7 per­cent of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries’ to­tal ex­ports and as much as 45 per­cent of their com­mer­cial ser­vices ex­ports.

Win­ners and oth­ers

How­ever, re­search has shown that if not prop­erly man­aged, tourism can have a broader detri­men­tal ef­fect. So how have some des­ti­na­tions man­aged to be­come key play­ers in this in­dus­try, while oth­ers re­main in the shad­ows, de­spite their rich as­sets?

What is a tourism plan?

Tourism plan­ning is a tool for des­ti­na­tion area de­vel­op­ment and a means for assess­ing the needs of a tourist-re­ceiv­ing mar­ket, where the pri­mary ar­eas of fo­cus are gen­er­at­ing in­come and em­ploy­ment, and en­sur­ing re­source con­ser­va­tion and vis­i­tor sat­is­fac­tion. In or­der to de­sign a suc­cess­ful de­vel­op­ment plan, it is nec­es­sary to have a clear un­der­stand­ing of the ob­jec­tives at lo­cal, re­gional and/or na­tional lev­els.

Tourism plan­ning is a tool for des­ti­na­tion area de­vel­op­ment and a means for assess­ing the needs of a tourist-re­ceiv­ing mar­ket, where the pri­mary ar­eas of fo­cus are gen­er­at­ing in­come and em­ploy­ment

Get­ting it right

Many coun­tries that were pi­o­neers of this con­cept re­al­ized the im­por­tance of set­ting a clear, tar­geted and ef­fec­tive tourism plan and im­ple­ment­ing strate­gies with a solid vi­sion for sus­tain­able tourism de­vel­op­ment.

Fo­cus on the fun­da­men­tals: de­velop a tourism strat­egy that is sus­tain­able and fo­cuses on the des­ti­na­tion’s strong fun­da­men­tal as­sets and unique prod­ucts to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from neigh­bor­ing coun­tries. In other words, fo­cus on pro­mot­ing and de­vel­op­ing the com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages or the core tourism of­fer­ings of a des­ti­na­tion, whether for the cul­tural and her­itage, beach/leisure, sports ac­tiv­i­ties, re­li­gious and his­tor­i­cal sites, or cor­po­rate and MICE seg­ments.

Tar­geted strat­egy: de­sign a strat­egy for the fu­ture that has dis­tinct ob­jec­tives, ac­cu­rate tar­get mar­kets and clear po­si­tion­ing for each state.

• Clear and mea­sur­able ob­jec­tives: quan­ti­ta­tive ob­jec­tives should be de­vel­oped to en­sure that the suc­cess of the tourism strat­egy is mea­sur­able and can be mon­i­tored. For ex­am­ple, Dubai’s Tourism Vi­sion for 2020 has a key ob­jec­tive of at­tract­ing 20 mil­lion vis­i­tors per year by 2020.

• Ac­cu­rate tar­get mar­ket: iden­tify tar­get seg­ments to pri­or­i­tize. Also, de­velop an in­depth un­der­stand­ing of trav­el­ers’ be­hav­iors, needs and the lat­est trends, by pin­point­ing the fol­low­ing:

- The value propo­si­tion to pro­mote: why visit the des­ti­na­tion? -The type of prod­ucts to show­case -The dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nel at­tributes (for ex­am­ple, tour op­er­a­tor pack­ages) -The key mar­ket­ing mes­sages and reach (for ex­am­ple, so­cial me­dia) -The re­quired changes to con­nec­tiv­ity -The key bar­ri­ers to ad­dress

Af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing its top source mar­kets, Sin­ga­pore tai­lored and cus­tom­ized Yoursin­ga­pore cam­paigns specif­i­cally for each coun­try, cre­at­ing an in­di­vid­ual set of taglines, key vi­su­als and mes­sages.

• Clear po­si­tion­ing for each state: in or­der to avoid can­ni­bal­ism, a smart tourism plan should have a clear and dif­fer­en­ti­ated po­si­tion­ing for each re­gion, based on its spe­cific fun­da­men­tal as­sets and strengths.

En­ablers and sup­port­ing stake­hold­ers

Bring­ing stake­hold­ers on board through in­volve­ment and col­lab­o­ra­tion is an­other im­por­tant fac­tor that can help a tourism plan achieve suc­cess. These in­clude pub­lic bod­ies, the pri­vate sec­tor and land own­ers, along­side a broad range of other key play­ers. The strat­egy should be as in­clu­sive as pos­si­ble, with in­put from across the pro­fes­sional spec­trum in seg­ments such as: Ac­tion plans re­lat­ing to the govern­ment agen­cies should in­clude op­ti­miz­ing the pub­lic sec­tor tourism struc­ture, im­prov­ing pub­lic-pri­vate col­lab­o­ra­tion and cre­at­ing a ‘Tourism Ob­ser­va­tory’. When it comes to hu­man cap­i­tal, the ar­eas of fo­cus should en­com­pass im­prov­ing on-the­job train­ing, ex­tend­ing in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tional part­ner­ships, de­vel­op­ing state ed­u­ca­tion, im­prov­ing lan­guage skills and reg­u­lat­ing in­for­mal la­bor.

A fi­nal touch

De­vel­op­ing a tourism plan is the first step to­ward driv­ing your des­ti­na­tion onto the in­ter­na­tional tourism scene. How­ever, plans have lit­tle value if they are not ef­fec­tively im­ple­mented. Thus, im­ple­men­ta­tion tech­niques must be iden­ti­fied, such as or­ga­niz­ing a na­tional tourism con­fer­ence to launch the plan. Such strate­gies can help to in­crease net­work­ing among key stake­hold­ers, spread knowl­edge among the com­mu­nity and boost its par­tic­i­pa­tion, while also at­tract­ing lo­cal and for­eign in­vest­ment.

Ac­tion plans in­clude op­ti­miz­ing the pub­lic sec­tor tourism struc­ture, im­prov­ing pub­licpri­vate col­lab­o­ra­tion and cre­at­ing a Tourism Ob­ser­va­tory

Stay­ing up to date

The tourism sec­tor is an ideal plat­form for de­vel­op­ing smart city so­lu­tions. With the aim of im­prov­ing the tourist ex­pe­ri­ence, which is now re­garded as an es­sen­tial el­e­ment of the over­all of­fer­ing, many coun­tries have rec­og­nized the pos­i­tive im­pact of de­vel­op­ing a smart tourism hub.

Col­lect­ing data: com­pil­ing in­for­ma­tion on ev­ery type of ac­tiv­ity that takes place at the des­ti­na­tion, col­lected from all pos­si­ble sources of data.

An­a­lyz­ing it: by us­ing var­i­ous in­tel­li­gent sys­tems to iden­tify tourists’ be­hav­iors, mea­sures can be pro­posed with a view to im­prov­ing both the man­age­ment of the des­ti­na­tion and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion.

Im­ple­ment­ing mea­sures: this in­cludes anal­y­sis of eco­nomic, tech­ni­cal and fi­nan­cial fea­si­bil­ity that will en­hance the des­ti­na­tion, mak­ing it more sus­tain­able and adapt­able to the needs of tourists, while al­low­ing them to cus­tom­ize their ex­pe­ri­ences.

Un­der­stand­ing de­mand

A com­mon er­ror is for des­ti­na­tions to de­velop a tourism plan, but fail to com­plete the full process and im­ple­ment their find­ings ef­fec­tively. Achiev­ing a suc­cess­ful tourism plan re­quires a key step early on in the process, which is assess­ing, study­ing and an­a­lyz­ing de­mand. This should in­clude both the present and la­tent de­mand, namely, the seg­ments that are not cur­rently tar­get mar­kets, but could po­ten­tially be at­tracted to the des­ti­na­tion in the long run. There­fore, un­der­stand­ing de­mand and iden­ti­fy­ing all its char­ac­ter­is­tics will al­low the des­ti­na­tion to have a clear vi­sion, a fo­cused ap­proach and the means to op­ti­mize a tourism bud­get.

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