Promoting holidays at home

By Jane Garcia

Australians are keen to spend their holidays exploring their home country, according to a recent survey of 5000 people conducted by travel agency group Travelscene American Express. About 34 per cent of participants said they were planning their next major trip within Australia, rather than overseas.

More people were interested in planning travel within their state (5.9 per cent) rather than travelling to New Zealand (5.2 per cent), Canada (four per cent) or South America (2.3 per cent).

The Australian Regional Tourism Centre (ARTRC), a partnership between Southern Cross University and the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre, is helping develop regional tourism with a three-year, nationwide project aiming to assist develop, market and management regional tourism destinations. The Sustainable Regional Tourism Destination Project will include detailed case studies of up to 23 destinations, including Byron Bay, Shark Bay in Western Australia and the Murray River.

ARTRC director and study co-ordinator, Meredith Lawrence, said the project was the first of this scale to be undertaken in Australia and would provide government, industry and communities with practical advice about best practice in marketing and developing tourism destinations. The project will study a range of regional tourism destinations, from inland to coastal areas and a mix of emerging and mature destinations.

“We want to discover what these destinations have learnt from practice and develop some national benchmarking,” she said.

“We’ll engage in destination workshops and will try to get the information we gather back out to the communities within weeks. We will also do cross-case analysis and develop tools and guidelines or manuals for other destinations.”

Ms Lawrence said successful promotion was all about getting people out and into regional areas, and there were a couple of things that even a small council with a limited budget could do to have an impact:
•    work with a local ROC or regional tourist organisation to share budget and other resources;
•    have a vision of what it wanted a destination to be and what it had to offer; and
•    promote itself as a gateway destination, if possible.

It was important for regional destinations to link marketing to the values of their community and they should realise that they may also be competing with some ‘affordable’ overseas tourist destinations such as Fiji, she said.

The ARTRC is holding the Australian Regional Tourism Convention from August 19 to 23 at Norfolk Island. 
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