Last year Destination Byron decided to invite a ‘futurist’ to present at our Annual Tourism Symposium to ‘spice things up a bit’. As it turns out, futurist are really expensive… think $5-$15k for a one hour presentation. Being a tiny not for profit, we opted to have a go at it ourselves. At first it was a daunting and somewhat overwhelming process. Then the realisation kicked in… you can’t hold a futurist accountable for the accuracy of their forecast until around a decade after the fact. With this realisation in hand, we went all in on some amazing concepts which we felt at the time would be game changers. Jeremy Holmes and I will be presenting our updated ‘Top 10 Travel Trends’ at this year’s symposium in June. The top 10 list is still under construction, however one that was a unanimous ‘yes’ was…
‘Under Tourism is the New Over Tourism’
…what a fascinating concept, that a destination would actively pursue presence on a ‘not hot’ travel list, or that a destination might understand that tourism can be about quality rather than quantity. Some traditional destination marketing models have become redundant of late as the realisation kicks in… visitor growth needs to be managed before some destinations turn into the next Queenstown, New Zealand or Venice, Italy. Where this gets tricky is how to preserve the cultural diversity of a destination while attracting affluent travellers over cash-strapped tourists. This, we feel is a very big debate to be had here in Byron Bay, and soon. The cost of inaction may be the travel equivalent of ‘price discovery’ in financial markets. This basically means that the product and services offered by a destination modulate over time to attract and capture the biggest monetary reward on offer at that time – putting the market in the driver’s seat and the destination in reactive mode.
While on the topic, another buzz word in destination management is ‘dispersal’. I would like to see real life cases of where this has worked and whether it only marginally shifts the problem elsewhere. I think the Byron visitor economy and Byron Shire Council will work much closer in 2019 and beyond to define its ‘perfect visitor profiles’ and start actively messaging them to attract compatible visitors.
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The skills-based volunteer board of Destination Byron greatly appreciate the opportunity to support a sustainable and responsible visitor economy here in Byron Bay.