Route tourism has been on the rise since before the COVID pandemic hit and changed the way in which we all travel, and this trend is expected to grow exponentially in the coming months.
With global and domestic movement having come to an almost complete standstill for months on end, it has become more important than ever for travel suppliers of all types and sizes to come together to nurture the revival of the tourism sector. The question is, how?
Route tourism is a strategic and beneficial approach to achieve active collaboration as opposed to competition.
What is route tourism?
Essentially, route tourism sees travel suppliers joining forces to market a specific destination, rather than focusing solely on marketing their standalone brand, products, and services. The primary goal of creating a tourism route is to guide tourists from one travel supplier to the next and, as a result, craft a streamlined, complete, and diverse experience that will leave them hungry for more – and likely to plan a return visit in the near future.
Five benefits of route tourism
Route tourism generates support and interest in a broad range of travel suppliers and helps to uplift them from financial strain caused by COVID-19. It could even help avoid permanent closure. Ultimately, in supporting a wider assortment of suppliers, the travel sector benefits as a whole. No local travel-related business is forgotten or left behind.
There isn’t a hard and fast rule in terms of how many travel suppliers need to collaborate, or how large or small the destination needs to be when crafting a tourism route. It could range from a handful of suppliers to more than a hundred suppliers who come together to promote a region, town, city, or even an entire province or country!
In order to stay relevant, travel-related businesses need to stay in-tune with traveller trends, demands, and expectations. Ahead of the COVID pandemic, travellers were in search of enriching experiences, adventures ‘off the beaten track’, awe-inspiring discoveries, flexibility and convenience, along with the chance to immerse themselves in a new culture and interact closely with locals. After spending months under lock and key, these desires are more potent than ever! Happily, route tourism makes it possible to check all of these boxes, and then some.
Route tourism seeks to discard the idea of tourism ‘hotspots’ by inspiring an interest in exploring many different aspects of a location and dispersing demand throughout the year. This also plays a positive part in the fight against COVID as it encourages fewer crowds and makes it easier for tourists to practice social distancing without sacrificing any experiences along the way.
The concept of route tourism promotes maximum economic growth and stability for three reasons, namely:
- It reduces competition and allows for cooperation between travel suppliers. This leads to an improved distribution of profits for greater, more consistent sustainability.
- It allows for the creation of jobs and opportunities to start businesses in regions that may have previously been ‘less favoured’. Socioeconomic development and regeneration are also supported as a result.
- It promotes economic and cultural ties, along with higher levels of social cohesion.
The challenges standing in the way of creating maintainable tourism routes
There is no denying that the creation of tourism routes is the way to go, especially in current times. However, there is also no escaping the fact that this approach to reviving the industry comes with a few challenges. Ultimately, these challenges need to be overcome before any benefits can be enjoyed.
First and foremost, it is crucial for all participating travel suppliers to meet and establish a workable system for democratic decision-making to avoid conflict and clashes in the future.
Secondly, it is of vital importance that participating travel suppliers do not forget to preserve and conserve their route. They must all make sustainability a top priority in all dealings.
Thirdly, all travel suppliers must agree when it comes to marketing the new tourism route that they have collectively pieced together. Along with deciding which marketing approach and technology to use, they must all be on the same page regarding who the main target market is and what the shared message and ‘feel’ of the collaborative destination ‘brand’ will be.
A shared love for their local destination and a united goal of seeing the travel industry resurrected back to its original glory makes the possibility of embracing route tourism both practical and sustainable. It takes work, but the immediate and long-term rewards are worth it. Don’t compete – collaborate!