The big picture
And nobody knows this better than the local members of ANTOR (The Association of National Tourism Offices) — representing a wide mix of countries including Dubai, France, India. Namibia, Ireland, Switzerland, Britain, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
While Neil Carney from Namibia Tourism is still basking in the spotlight of the Brangelina coup — the rest of the ANTOR representatives certainly have some tricks up their collective sleeves.
According to Antoinette Lintvelt Lloyd, the director of the Dubai Representative Office in South Africa, there are over 350 events that take place in Dubai on an annual basis — which means that Dubai is so much more than just a shopping destination. Antoinette points out that Dubai is currently enjoy their Summer Surprises celebration which includes: a food, adventure, jewellery extravaganza AND something completely different: an Ice Surprise theme promoting the newly built ski village (we kid you not). Says Lintveldt: “We always used to say the only thing we couldn’t offer travellers on a trip to Dubai is skiing — now that’s no longer true!”
Not that Dubai has any problem in marketing itself — not with events such as the Dubai Shopping Festival: The Dubai Desert Classic, The Dubai World Cup (the richest horse race in the world), The Dubai Rugby Sevens …to mention just a few key highlights. No doubt the first Desert Ski Championships will be on the cards in the near future.
As a country Zambia has seen some positive changes over the past few years and there are more to come, according to Solistor Cheelo, Manager of the Zambia National Tourist Board for South Africa and Australia. He says that development is on the rise at a rapid rate, with The Three Cities Hotel group showing its presence as well as Protea hotels expanding in the country. There are also rumours that Accor hotels will be opening up soon. Cheelo says that business tourism is the key to marketing Zambia to the world. “There is so much investment in Livingstone and Lusaka as tourism business venues that one day soon we will no doubt be able to host the big events.”
He also points out the Zambia is very excited about spill-over from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa — and that his country needs to be fully prepared. He welcomes the discussions and developments around the SADC visa which will truly open things up in terms of access to Southern African countries. “The SADC visa means free movement and is definitely going to benefit tourism in the long run.”
After the Brangelina coup, Neil Carney — the local Media Manager for Namibia Tourism — simply can’t get the grin off his face. Uber-publicity, courtesy of worldwide Hollywood obsession, is something this country will reap the benefits of for years to come. However, Namibia Tourism are not resting on their laurels by any means and as they bask in the post-Brangelina glory, the concept of the family holiday has never been more significant.
Carney says: “Family travel is a main priority, either self-drive journeys or flying into Windhoek and doing a self-drive.” He says that a very user-friendly voucher system has been put in place in terms of accommodation and getting around which means that visitors have both flexibility and convenience. One challenge for Namibia as a destination is that it has been perceived as a very male destination and this needs to change. “We are dispelling this myth,” says Carney, “We are trying to highlight the experiences you can have in Namibia to combat this all-male identity.” He says things like spas and wellness are also a draw-card and the Green Season (from June to September) and desert flower safaris are a major highlight.
“Everyone says I have the hardest job of all,” chuckles Ndaipaneyi D Mukwenim, manager for the Zimbabwe Tourism Office, “but I don’t think so. It’s business as usual.” No doubt the Zimbabwe Tourism Office has seen brighter days, but Ndaipeneyi is all positive energy regarding her country as a holiday destination. “Zimbabwe is as dynamic as ever and there are big changes happening,” she says.
According to Ndaipeneyi, a major initiative taking place is the reinvention of the border post at Beit Bridge, “It’s the gateway to the rest of Africa and we are looking towards restructuring all the processes around this border so that we are ready for 2010,” she says.
Like South Africa, another focus for Zimbabwe Tourism is community tourism. Ndaipeneyi says, “We are making a big move to community tourism projects — this is key to poverty alleviation in our country.” She is also excited about the Transfrontier Parks and a new grading system for Zimbabwe’s tourism facilities. A key focus for Zimbabwe, like the rest of the SADC countries, is no doubt 2010.
For JP Shaw, Director of India Tourism Johannesburg, the marketing of India is not so much around events, but around experience. He says the diversified product that is India, is so huge and there is so much to choose from — whether it’s a cultural holiday, an eco-tourism holiday or a spiritually-inspired holiday.
He concurs that the first stop for tourists is generally the Golden Triangle of Deli, Jaipur and Agra (including the Taj Mahal). Shaw says that once visitors have been to the Golden Triangle they then go off to the national parks to go and see the tigers, or head off to Goa for the beaches. Another product that is an essential focus are India’s islands of Andaman and Nicobar who have recovered from the Boxing Day tsunami and have been restored to their former glory. He also says that spiritual tourism is a major market. Ayurvedic retreats and schools of Yoga in the mountain areas are extremely popular, as are pilgrimages to Varanasi and Dharamsala (where the Dalai Lama lives). JP Shaw is also in the throes of planning on promoting an ‘In the Footsteps of Mahatma Ghandi’ tour to the South African market, which he feels will sell exceptionally well to the local Indian population (and the spiritually-inspired).
When it comes to marketing European countries — the national tourist offices of France, Britain, Ireland and Switzerland are fully prepared.
France is looking forward to next year’s rugby world cup and has planned a wealth of routes and tours around the event — to ensure that they ‘hook’ the sports fans to explore further.
Ireland is looking forward to the 2006 Ryder Cup which takes place from 22 to 24 September in Country Kildare and it is estimated that over one billion people will be watching the event, certainly a marketing dream. Visit Britain has got its big events down pat with the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the London to Brighton Car Veteran Run and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay New Year’s Festival. Of course, when it comes to England — any event around the royal family brings in loyal tourists.
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