By Dylan J Stone
The Palace Hotel successfully hosted the Broken Hill and the Outback 2023 Industry Launch and Tourism Strategy Seminar on Thursday night, with 20 local tourism operators and stakeholders in hearing how the sector is faring and where it’s headed.
Patrick Kreitner, from the Visitor Information Centre, said, “it feels like we are back in business, despite continuing issues such as labour shortages both here and around the world.”
The seminar recognised the need to look to the next 12-18 months and beyond to increase the number of people staying in Broken Hill by creating and expanding high-end and authentic visitor experiences.
In the last 12 months, 70,000 visitors had passed through the doors of the Visitor Information Centre, which was about one-third of the total number of tourists visiting Broken Hill during that time.
It was a very strong tourist season, and underlined that people are once again travelling after the hit Covid delivered to travel plans.
“People are more ready to travel now than in 2021,” said Mr Kreitner, “but the majority are still concerned about international travel. Cost-of-living pressures are now the dominant concern amongst travellers, but the financial confidence of tourists generally holds up due to high job security.”
Nicholas Heath, Director of Pace Marketing, was the keynote speaker for the event. He said, “domestic tourism is predicted to stay very strong for the next year, and this has been fuelled by a real desire of tourists to connect with the bush, as well as lingering concerns relating to Covid.
“But as the capacity for international travel continues to accelerate, we need to look to a post-Covid tourism strategy which will require a readjustment on how we market the community to domestic and international tourists.’
“Experience-stacking,” according to Mr Heath, is the answer to this and is where a community, “rebrands an existing thing to add on to peoples’ journeys, as more experiences encourage people to stay longer”.
“It’s the ability to tailor those experiences to an individual or group, and digital assets can help achieve this, such as by offering tailored experiences to a tourist at the time they initially book accommodation,” Mr Heath said.
Ed Jones, account director at Pace Marketing, said, “as people are making last-minute travelling decisions, everything is very fluid and tourists are impressionable to the marketing strategies of communities and regions”.
Interestingly, in this digital age, Mr Jones said Broken Hill’s tourism strategy should continue to focus on the use of, “physical tourist maps, as they can hook people in by capturing their attention.”
“People in the cities have time to burn and are looking for places to get out for a quick weekend getaway, and physical visitor guides can create the first physical attachment to a region, he said.
‘Where experience-stacking has a role, is that we can use data from tourists to indicate what they will likely be interested in. For example, if someone indicates they are going to see the sculptures, we can use experience-stacking to presume they are likely interested in visiting the national parks as well,’ Mr Jones said.
“We can then recommend this through our digital resources, to encourage the tourist to stay in Broken Hill for a further period of time.”
Mr Heath implored the local community to become “local advocates” of the region, and importantly, “use the #destinationbrokenhill hashtag to advertise your favourite things to do in Broken Hill, because by using this hashtag, you can show the traveller what Broken Hill has to offer,” he said.
Further tourism strategy seminars will be held in 2023.
“The honeymoon period of Covid-induced domestic travel will end in the next 12 to 18 months, and Broken Hill will need to look to new ways of attracting and retaining visitors,” Mr Heath said.