You can’t manage what you don’t understand. The key to unlocking the potential of a destination is understanding how it performs against a set of agreed benchmarks (for example market share, yield, triple-bottom line sustainability). The situation analysis phase of destination management involves analysing and understanding the environment in which a tourism destination operates. The aim is to assist destination managers in identifying key factors that will influence how a destination is developed, marketed and managed over time. It is an essential part of ‘Destination Planning’ and should underpin the ‘Implementation’ phase where the strategic direction for a destination is committed to action.
Research has shown that a comprehensive situation analysis should include:
- An understanding of the destination community’s aspirations and values;
- Identification and analysis of current visitor markets;
- Understanding consumer (visitor) characteristics, behaviours and preferences to identify preferred future target markets;
- Reviewing and analysing the operating environment of a destination, including internal and external factors that might influence the planning and development a destination;
- Undertaking an infrastructure, product and experiences analysis that is matched with a visitor demand analysis to identify key gaps in the destination’s product offering and opportunities to value add to the visitor experience;
- Measurement of the value of tourism, including economic and non-economic contribution, to provide understanding and potentially increased recognition of the importance of tourism;
- Forecasts of future visitation in sufficient detail to support understanding of the likely demand and the future mix of visitors;
- An understanding of the existing and future resource impacts of tourism on a destination and identification of strategies to develop a sustainable approach to tourism development and growth. This includes an assessment of the impact on natural areas and protected areas within a destination;
- An indication of the vision for tourism is articulated and agreed by the governments, tourism industries and community stakeholders;
- A review of important issues, challenges and opportunities facing the destination across the short-term, medium-term and long-term;
- Recognition of the human and financial capital available to support tourism and destination management;
- An analysis of the statutory and planning environment and how these regulations will impact on tourism planning and development in a destination, including the impact of climate change regulations;
- Review and where possible alignment of region-level strategic planning with national and state policies and plans to assist the development of partnerships and leverage strategic opportunities.
- Review of lessons learned from other destinations on pitfalls, successes and future opportunities.
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