Of this, spending by inbound tourist visitors to UK is forecast to rise at 4.4% compared to 2.6% by domestic residents in the period to 2020 (Deloittes).
This begs the question: Why do visitors choose a particular destination? Simple, because they like what they see and hear! It’s all about reputation. They have formed their own opinion based on the huge amount of media available to them, ranging from Tripadviser to travel channels; Sunday supplements to good old word of mouth and increasingly from social media. They do it at home or in their hotels and they do it on the move from smartphones and tablets. We need to make it easy for visitors to make their decision in advance and not leave it up to the vagaries of weather and other factors to influence them on the day.
Today, we create our own itineraries based on what we want to experience, not based on tradition, the resort brochure or its modern day equivalent, the destination’s web site! We want great experiences and we want them on our own terms and in the majority of cases, in the company of people like us in outlook and tastes.
Ultimately, popularity is contagious. People are aspirational in their outlook; they want to spend their leisure time at popular locations, whether they be Oxford Street, Alton Towers or Fisherman’s Wharf. In the Experience Economy, shopping, eating out or visiting attractions are all equally valid leisure activities and successful destinations are those that combine all of these things in an accessible and easy to visit package.
Visitor Attractions have a central role to play in this: innovative and well designed attractions act as anchor features for successful destinations. They can draw additional tourists to a destination. They are a catalyst and focus for wider development. By giving visitors a reason to spend more time in a destination, they help to support other complementary leisure projects, museums, shops, hotels; even commercial and residential development.
An attraction may be an iconic development that can effect a paradigm shift in perception of a location, like the Guggenheim, Bilbao; it may be a signature restaurant in a previously unknown Cornish fishing village or it may be a cluster of historic and cultural attractions that together create a destination that becomes a must-see stopover on every tourist coach trip. The bottom line is that it’s the attractions in the widest sense that are offering the visitor the great and memorable experiences that they crave in their increasingly busy and stressed lives and it’s this industry’s job to deliver them!