5 Tourism Tips for Local Government
5 Tourism Tips for Councils
Ask where you can add value?
Each Council is different and the tourism assets and attractions you have in your area will be different to the neighboring Council. One size does not fit all in your approach to attracting more visitors. But perhaps more visitors is not what will best help local businesses. Perhaps keeping the current visitors longer is the aim, maybe it’s working with industry to engage residents in the value of tourism. Send your local tourism officer to the local tourism industry meeting to listen to what business says it needs and work out what Council can contribute that individual business can’t.
Don’t fixate on the business case.
It’s easy to kill the spirit of tourism with a return on investment ratio. Tourism relies on infrastructure and services to support trade and visitor movement. While measuring tourism return is necessary, it is sometimes hard to measure the value self-drive tourists put on having parking bays for large campervans and trailers, or the pleasure of being in a local event at night when a tourist might otherwise be in their hotel.
Council funded public infrastructure that supports tourism includes things like events, caravan turning bays, free city bikes, Visitor Information Centres, parks, signage, well-lit night spaces – they are economic drivers that support tourism businesses to trade, encourage interaction and demonstrate support for the visitor dollar. Most of them will not make money directly, but that’s not really the role of Council, is it?
Be bold, have patience
Tourism is competitive and to cut through you need to be known for something. Whether it’s a Big Galah, the best steak in QLD, the most southern beach, singing dingoes you need to hang your hat on something. And not something others are doing. Even if it’s “our Council are targeting Chinese education markets because we have great natural environments and we have an active local Chinese community”. Work with what you’ve got; tour operators who with Mandarin speaking guides, local school teachers who organize student exchanges and billeting, special deals for Chinese locals’ visiting friends and families. Whatever it is, pick something that appeals to your Council and community, like the sound of, has lots of angles. Then get creative, involve the community, involve business, do some sums, work out who’s going to pay for what, write a plan, then back yourself to the hilt and be bold. It will take awhile for things to catch on in the marketing public world but with persistence and patience you will become known for doing something great and in tourism, this is better than doing lots of things blandly.
Partner, partner, partner.
Councils, take your partner by the hand. It’s almost impossible to be in tourism alone. Touirsm relies on state tourism organisations getting people here, other government departments to provide access infrastructure like roads, railways, bus stations, ferry ports…then onto the operators with beds, cars, food and tours…. and the Council to provide city maps, directional signage, parks and places to rest, breathe and wonder about. Understanding the role of Council in the scheme of things and your limitations is important for setting up realistic expectations with industry and state government. By partnering with other councils you may be able to negotiate better with pooled budgets and people working in the same direction and create interesting itineraries that lead outside Council boundaries …which brings me to the next point…
Tourists don’t care about Council boundaries.
The reality is local government funding is and had to be limited to a boundary. But tourists don’t travel by boundaries. Think of yourself on holiday – you are looking for great food, a certain ‘vibe’, interested in great beaches, things for the kids to do to burn off some energy. You want to know the best place to stop over a long stretch between Adelaide and Sydney. It doesn’t matter if it’s in this Shire or the one next door, people do not care about Council boundaries as much as the elected members do. Think about linking up with the Council next door, even 3 or 4 Councils and pooling resources and branding marketing materials the same. Try passing business forward to the town after you and the town behind you, not just trying to keep tourists in your town or region. Visitors will love it because that’s the journey they are on and it’s customer service that still rocks peoples’ worlds.
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