Don’t know what makes a place unique? Time to find out

A point of difference. A unique selling proposition. They are phrases that are bandied around an awful lot, but is having one as important as it’s made out to be?

When it comes to attracting visitors and investment to your corner of the world, there is little doubt. Why else would a potential traveler, resident or business come to you if what you’re offering can be found elsewhere?

By way of example, when it comes to tourism, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) estimates that more than 50 per cent of tourists worldwide are motivated by a desire to experience a place’s culture and heritage. In their terms, if you haven’t figured out what makes your community different in cultural terms, then you can wave goodbye to over half of your potential visitors.

So if we’re agreed that differentiation is key, then the next question to ask revolves around what it is that can provide your community with that point of difference.

In answering this question, a healthy dose of objectivity is required. Often the things that a community value and pride themselves on – like a beach, a cultural centre, a new sporting facility, an annual community gathering – will be found elsewhere in one form or another. As such, identifying your community’s assets that few, if any others can match, is of paramount importance.

From relatively humble beginnings in 2009, in only 10 years, Vivid Sydney has grown into a behemoth (Destination NSW/Ken Leanfore)

One great example of leveraging a point of difference is Sydney’s Vivid Festival. When it comes to Australia’s creative industries, 45 per cent of those employed in the sector reside in NSW. Taking this clear point of strength and making it the foundation stone for a festival has proven to be inspired.

From relatively humble beginnings in 2009, in only 10 years, Vivid Sydney has grown into a behemoth. In 2017 the event attracted over 2 million attendees and delivered well in excess of $100m of direct spend into the state economy. The reasons for the exponential growth of Vivid are many and varied, but undoubtably one of fundamentals at the core of its success is its connection to one of the broader community’s points of difference, it’s strength in the creative industries sector.

So if you’re lucky enough to be in Sydney over the next couple of weeks, take a moment as you wander this year’s light installations to reflect on the fact that you’re in Australia’s home of the creative industries, and in turn, the only place in Australia where an event the type and scale of Vivid could possibly be held.

 Vivid Sydney is on from May 24 – June 15 in various locations around Sydney.

Stu Speirs is Government News’ Tourism and Events contributor and the Program Director of the inaugural Place Branding Australia, part of this year’s Vivid Ideas program.

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