Magazine article International Trade Forum

Opinion Piece: TOURISM AS AN ECONOMIC TOOL

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Opinion Piece: TOURISM AS AN ECONOMIC TOOL

Article excerpt

Shaping strategic positioning to attract tourists to least developed countries

Strategic positioning is the first thing developing countries should do when considering tourism as an economic tool. It requires the development of a carefully constructed, unique proposition that frames the attractions offered to tourists from targeted sources, communicating them in a convincing and consistent manner. Highincome travellers offer particular advantages to least developed countries (LDCs) and a nuanced approach is required to attract them and to meet their needs.

In LDCs1 tourism is often held aloft as a quick fix for economic ills. Bring in tourists with their dollars, euros and yuan and you open a channel, for you and your country, to hard currency that could make a real difference to the lives of millions of people. The idea is valid. The Maldives has shown what can be done to move a population out of subsistence. The trick is to commence investment in tourism from the right place; in short, to spend some time developing the unique proposition that will bring the right people to your country, the sort of people who will spend money in the local area and will not leave damaging footprints on the landscape.

At the United Nations Fourth Least Developed Countries Conference (LDC-IV) in Istanbul last May, I had the pleasure of speaking on tourism strategies with an authence of delegates at the World Export Development Forum. The delegates came from the world's LDCs and I was tasked with describing how they can make the most of their tourism opportunities to boost their countries' economies out of poverty.

My work at Etoile is about helping people, businesses and governments position themselves on the world stage in the most advantageous way possible, given the resources they have to hand. When my colleagues and I look at a challenge, we spend Considerable time considering the geopolitical context within which the client is operating, This means looking very carefully at five things:

1. Where they have come from - the context, the journey Or the story of the journey that brings them to the place they are in today

2. Where they are now

3. Where they want to be

4. How they would measure success if they got there - vital if you want to know your budgets are being properly spent

5. How we might help them get there - the strategy and campaign plan,

The goal is to find an unassailable strategic positioning, the sort of positioning that allows a country to carve out a successful tourism niche and bring the right sort of people to the market in the right numbers. If a country understands what its strategic positioning is, then it can start to communicate it to the world. Some countries make the mistake of setting out to right all the inequalities of their history in setting tourism policy, when they should in fact concentrate on matching their best tourism assets with the best tourists. Economic success will surely follow.

Here are seven rules of thumb for the aspiring tourism munster:

1. Get your strategic positioning right, Do not try and be all things to all people. People understand what they get in Patagonia, Borneo, the Maldives and South Africa. Each of these countries has had to navigate difficult histories, but they have focused clearly on their strategic positioning to attract the right tourists.

2. Choose your market carefully. Who are you aiming to attract to your country? …

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