The South Australian Heritage Council hosted a stimulating and multi-faceted heritage tourism workshop on Wednesday, 20 April 2016, that was designed to promote heritage tourism planning, integrate technological advancements, approach destination mapping as a journey creating interesting linkages, and to encourage cross collaboration amongst groups and agencies.
Ian Hunter, Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, kicked off the event with a rousing call to arms to all attendees to embrace and promote the wonderful heritage of South Australia in all its forms and contextual fabric:
- The rich cultural heritage and history;
- the buildings and streetscapes of cities, towns and regions with their living architectural languages;
- the places which tell a fascinating story; and the people and their stories that contribute to and evoke the heritage of South Australia.
The three keynote speakers, although quite different in subject matter and delivery, were all aimed at encouraging attendees to:
Listen to their customers carefully and think strategically, in order to deliver more accessible tourism experiences, which in turn generate economic growth and development.
A key message
To embrace technology and tailor experiences for different customer markets and needs, creating opportunities for visitor interaction and value adding to the tourism experience.
An interesting fact is that the heritage tourist traditionally spends an additional 35% more during their stay than another type of tourist. It’s the focus on place, person, or events that creates a lasting impression.
Jane Harrington, Director of Conservation & Infrastructure, Port Arthur Historic Sites, gave a thought provoking presentation, detailing the rich tapestry of the people and the history of events, juxtaposed with the places and buildings, which all contribute to making Port Arthur (and surrounds) what is now a leading Australian tourist destination.
Of considerable note, the economic growth for Port Arthur and surrounds has experienced steady growth predominantly in response to accessibility and restoration projects, and more recently due to significant growth in Chinese tourists to the area.
The Lord Mayor, Adelaide City Council, Martin Haese, presented on the role of heritage in the council’s Tourism Action Plan, which embraced the notion of actively engaging the heritage tourist market, and capitalising on potential for economic growth through strategic marketing.
Dr Darren Peacock, CEO, National Trust, gave an engaging presentation on technological advancements and benefits to referencing heritage places and providing historical content to enhance the visitor engagement experience, which in turn leads to increased expenditure.
Adelaide is home to a wealth of heritage, and opportunities to increase economic growth, be it in the city, town, place or region, and this message was delivered by 10 speakers who gave short presentations on topics ranging from: Cruise ship tourists and engaging this dynamic and demanding market; to geo-heritage tourism opportunities across the breadth of South Australia; to the Living in the Port Walking Trails and SA History Hub; and the Adelaide Oval and Roof Climb experience.
Each short presentation had something different to offer, but the focus was the same:
Heritage; delivering the right experience – whether it was about the people, buildings, stories, history or context; and how to increase the tourist expenditure.
At the close of the day various discussion groups were formed and led by a facilitator, with each group tackling a heritage tourism topic. Each group brainstormed new ventures or explored ideas to encourage visitors for heritage tourism to their area, then reported back to the plenary session with key opportunities to consider.
In closing, there is vast potential for heritage tourism, either as a journey or as the destination, with the potential for economic development extraordinary, as long as strategies are in place to harness the potential moving forward.
The key takeaways from the Workshop are:
That the heritage place, building, or facilitator should be responsive to the visitor, and construct itineraries and journeys (physical or metaphorical) which are tailored to their needs.
More importantly ascertain what the visitor is interested in and how they want the information delivered:
- Are they seeking authenticity in the experience;
- are they seeking to be entertained; or
- is education a key focus for the heritage tourist?
The Workshop encouraged us to analyse the level of engagement required dependent on the market, so that we can respond effectively and ensure that the experience for the tourist is enriched. It’s crucial that we engage the visitor and deliver a good heritage tourism experience as this will increase their expenditure, and in turn deliver sound economic growth and development.
Written by: Lara Jones, Economic Development Project Officer at City of Burnside
Image: History SA, Visitor Centre at Sheeps’ Back Museum Naracoorte