June 11, 2009

Tourist boards urged to market despite downturn

Tourist boards must carry on investing to promote their destinations, despite the recession.That was the call from speakers at World Travel Market’s first WTM Vision conference in London.‘It is not a time to be a shrinking violet,’ said Peter Shanks, Carnival UK chief commercial officer.

‘Hats off to tourist boards which are promoting themselves such as Australia and Barbados.
‘If you promote yourself, you will get the business. I advise tourist boards to invest to get the business.’
Emma Harris, UK and international sales and marketing director for Eurostar, said: ‘All the research will tell you any brand that stops investing in a recession will take longer to recover, if at all.

‘After the tunnel fire, it was hard to market [Eurostar] and the effect has been significant. Since we started again in Februarya the effect has been huge.’

Mike Greenacre, managing director of The Co_operative Travel, advised tourist boards to work with agents as well as tour operators to market their destinations’ value for money.

‘We have access to millions of customers and tourist boards needs to rethink how they get to the consumer,’ he said.
Nigel Pocklington, EMEA managing director for, noted how Dubai and the Gulf are holding up as luxury destinations.

‘It is because of the fares from Gulf airlines and the positioning by tourist boards,’ he added.
Speakers also noted changes in how brands were being positioned – Harris said names such as Hovis, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s were capitalising on their heritage.

And Greenacre said trust in brands was important following high_profile collapses such as XL, as people wanted to know their money is safe.

‘Since we rebranded all our shops to Co_operative Travel, it has brought about a 2_3% benefit,’ he said.
‘With the Travelcare brand, we believed that consumers recognised it as the Co_op but only 10% of consumers realised it was the Co_op.’