TOURISTS are drawn – in growing numbers – to the vibrancy, excitement and diversity on offer in cities worldwide.
The socio-economic impact of these visitors is extraordinary.
Whether visiting for leisure, business, or to meet friends and relatives, tourists contribute to the local economy and support jobs across any city and beyond.
As tourists’ preferences and expectations change, so do cities, with tourism triggering constant investment in infrastructure, promotion and conservation, benefiting tourists and residents alike.
Managing urban tourism, however, is no simple task.
As metropolitan areas expand rapidly, both the public and private sectors face radical changes, as well as significant opportunities.
Managing increasing tourist numbers amid a constantly changing city landscape, while ensuring the city is developed to respond to the needs of both visitors and local communities, is key.
Cities are constantly growing and in a constant state of change to provide visitors the experiences and products they expect. Such products and experiences are also constantly changing to adapt to an increasing demand. Therefore, in Nelson Mandela Bay, we need to ask ourselves:
“How can we progress in this environment and take advantage of the clear opportunities for tourism into the future?”
We have to face the world with an open mind.
The tourism industry today requires a workforce that has an open mind, with digital capabilities and intercultural skills, with an “ability to easily discover and interpret the intersection of disciplines and different visions of the world” (E Wilson). Tourism is an information-intensive sector but also one which consistently lacks an adequate transferral of knowledge through its many components.
So, there is a clear need for tools and systems that properly coordinate and manage the knowledge available, allowing it to flow along the chain.
Collaboration through an integration of interests is needed at all levels of our political, administration and product owners in the tourism sector.
Positioning product experience ahead of profit in the medium-long term, while setting key tourism development needs, where appropriate, and conducting audits and assessments on our progress, may be a way in which Nelson Mandela Bay can grow in the global tourism industry.
The increasingly complex and competitive environment for destinations increases the need to diversify and to stand out.
The truth is that the future is already here and, as a result of the economic and financial crisis from which much of the world is suffering, we are on the threshold of significant changes in values, attitudes and ways of living as well as in social structures themselves.
These trend possibilities will require a clear alignment of interests of both businesses and tourism role players within our city.