Here’s one practical next step…

Be in a position of knowledge as your re-starting point

Since I have been furloughed, I have had plenty of time to keep up with news items relating to tourism. Through mainstream and social media channels, everyone is speculating about how travel might change ‘once this is over’. Many think that this is the chance for destinations to step back and think about the kind of tourism they really want. Although the industry is suffering terribly, might this be an opportunity to ‘get the house in order’? Could this be the chance to address the Invisible Burden of tourism once and for all?

But it’s all a bit overwhelming. Reading all of this I am wondering, what must it be like working for a destination management organisation, really wanting to act, but not knowing where to start? Because whilst there is huge merit in all the things these articles are advocating, very little has yet been done to demonstrate ‘the how’.

As I reflect on everything I’ve worked on over the past 11 years, I have learned that without engagement you won’t achieve anything. And even when people are engaged it is very unlikely they will take the next step if they don’t know how. That’s why I’ve always loved my job, because equipping partners and stakeholders with the knowledge and skills they need to take and embed action means that things start to get done.

Many destinations are collecting data but to what end? Managed well, data can provide a wealth of information to help a destination better manage and market itself. Managed badly it won’t tell them anything useful at all! The Travel Foundation can help destinations to maximise the data collected. We can help destinations to identify what to look for and how to interpret it. We can facilitate the data collection gathering process with questions that destinations may not have thought of to ask. We come with an outsider perspective, with fresh eyes and we have no bias or agenda.

We start by asking lots of questions: –

  • Why are you collecting data?
  • What data are you collecting?
  • How are you using it?
  • What answers has it given you?
  • What data are other stakeholders collecting?
  • Where are any gaps?
  • Who gathers what and how can you work with other government departments to create an accurate picture?

Mapping out the data that institutions collect, putting it all together and then analysing and interrogating it are the key initial steps in creating an integrated management system that in turn will help to better manage the destination.

From where I sit this practical approach is a great first step for any destination to take. Our core team is here to help you make that happen.

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