Wednesday March 19, 2014
Emerging Trends and National Outlook Highlighted at Tourism Question Time
Manon Williams MTS (Visit Wales) officially opened the Best of Britain and Ireland 2014 show on March 12th before joining other representatives of national tourism organisations to answer questions from both the chairman and audience during the Tourism Society’s traditional Question Time curtain-raiser.
Bernard Donoghue FTS (ALVA) returned as the Chairman for the event, which sparked discussion on the divide between traditional and digital marketing strategies, unique visitor experiences and the staying power of the staycation.
Despite the rise in importance of technological channels the importance of traditional brochures was recognised – the skill lies in striking the right balance in production of marketing materials. With respect to this Louise Stewart (VisitEngland) emphasised the importance of ‘content curation’, that the best writers should be sought using current social technology. As Williams remarked, blogging has made travel writing “hugely democratic”, therefore prospective travellers should not just rely on existing and trusted sites for information on their chosen destination. Angela Byrne MTS (Isle of Man) agreed that websites are just a tool, but it is ultimately about where this information goes that destination management organisations need to be aware of.
Donoghue probed the speakers for their thoughts on the effects of the staycation. Wales had benefitted from the trend with Williams stating that last year’s spend per head was up by 12% - maintaining this position would be the challenge. Stewart felt that while outbound numbers were on the rise again England would still be in the traveller’s repertoire as the recent staycation trend had allowed domestic tourists to appreciate the advances that had been made in the UK product over the last 10 to 15 years.
In conclusion, Donoghue asked the panel for their suggestions of what a new government could do for tourism. Byrne asked for a better understanding of how important tourism is for the Isle of Man, stressing that the quality of a destination is linked to the quality of life of its residents. David De Carteret (Jersey Tourism) added that “government spending should be poured into our infrastructure” which needs urgent expansion.
The session also saw the launch of Euromonitor International’s Top Trends Report delivered by Tahiyya Jurdine (Euromonitor International). Four key trends were identified:
the impact of the HS2 Rail link, the increasing impact and use of wearable technology, viral communities, and the rise of the ‘golden traveller’.
Manon Williams MTS (centre), Welsh Government. Flanked by left to right by Mark Griffin MTS, Best of Britain & Ireland; Angela Byrne MTS, Isle of Man; Gregory Yeoman MTS, The Tourism Society; Louise Stewart, VisitEngland; Dave de Carteret, Jersey Tourism; Vanessa Markey, Tourism Ireland; and Bernard Donoghue MTS, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions