SUNBIZ

TOURISM TRENDS FOR 2018

All the peering back and examining what happened last year has taken place and now the time has come to try to look forward and identify trends for the coming
16 Jan 2018 17:04
TOURISM TRENDS FOR 2018
Chinese tourists who visited Fiji last year at the Nadi International Airport. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

All the peering back and examining what happened last year has taken place and now the time has come to try to look forward and identify trends for the coming year that could benefit the Fiji tourism industry and maybe shine a little light on possible opportunities.

The coming year should be an exciting one for Fiji and the focus in business will be on the development of the tourism industry.

One of the big impacts will be the millen­nium generation, those people born since the turn of the century, are now heading towards being the biggest generation ever and are starting to make their own decisions about the sort of things they expect out of a vaca­tion.

Perception of destination

They are better paid than any other genera­tion, have an excellent grasp of technology and expectations about its potential, are sure of themselves and are less constrained by shared conventions than any other genera­tion.

They want to travel and they want real (rather than manufactured) experiences.

They will base decisions on their travel des­tination on their perception of what any des­tination can deliver to them.

They want to get their own information, they will seek the opinion of others in their generation and they want to get the informa­tion easily. Social media will be an impor­tant, indeed critical tool in reaching this tar­get group.

Women in tourism

Another target group that is becoming very important in tourism is females.

Whether married, single, in a relationship or leading a family, women have become much more important in the tourism equa­tion over the last five years and it is expected that they will become even more important in the next year.

Research shows that women are the deci­sion maker in over 80 per cent (that’s right, over eighty percent) of all non-business trav­el, whether they are deciding for themselves or for other people.

The female solo travel market is also grow­ing rapidly with over 70 per cent of USA fe­males taking at least one solo trip in the last year and, while there is no hard research, the industry believes that the same trend is hap­pening in Australia.

Females have additional criteria when con­sidering a trip and marketers need to consid­er things like personal safety, a healthy and non-threatening environment, ease of travel and the availability of good medical services as part of the destination package.

Food tourism

Food tourism has been a growing segment for a number of years and the food experi­ence offered to visitors will rapidly become important in the destination decision in the coming year as food is one of the interest ar­eas for Millenniums.

They see eating local fare as part of the tourism experience, a way of getting to know the country and the people.

They do not look for the upmarket, inter­national fusion type of experience but are seeking real, genuine and involving opportu­nities to try the food the locals are eating. Fiji is not regarded as a food tourism destination and it may be a long stretch to try to develop this area.

The tourists are now starting to consider the impact their travelling will have on the environments they visit.

This is not limited to the Millennium mar­ket but is spreading to all the other segments in some degree.

Less visited areas

There is a clear and well defined trend for tourists to select the less visited areas and to avoid the “tourist traps”, locations that have been building up in tourist numbers over a period and where the new travellers believe the sheer numbers are doing damage.

The areas that offer the same experiences without the numbers to threaten the local environment are the ones that will win more people.

These tourists are also seeking a quieter, more real and genuine experience and space and silence are considered valuable attrib­utes.

Worldwide there are continuous articles about the shift away from overcrowded des­tinations and clear evidence that tourists are responding. Fiji should score well in this at­tribute

Mobile phone photography will be­come one of the major drivers of tourism growth.

Most decisions on destination are made with some back ground of photographs tak­en by people in the same social group as the potential tourist that show the type of expe­rience available in a destination of interest.

Role of photographers

This information is even more effective in directing a choice if the photographer is from a similar group or segment.

These shots are delivered by social media and consumerd in large numbers by someone who is about to make a destination selection.

Millenniums are particularly susceptible to this form of destination information.

Social tourism is a rapidly growing segment and appears to not be very price or time sen­sitive, providing a valuable tool for filling low periods.

These tourists want to do something worth­while for the country they are visiting and are willing to spend their time and money to do so.

There is clearly an opening for an organisa­tion to assist in setting up the opportunity to do some undertake activities and the market will generally be groups rather than indi­viduals.

Chinese travellers

The China market will be the big break­through in the coming year.

The Fiji Government will undoubtedly al­low access for at least one China airline to Fiji and the main barrier to the China travel market, the lack of a direct non-stop airline service, will be removed.

Right now there remain some issues to providing access to the China market right across the industry.

Chinese travellers overwhelmingly prefer to use known brand accommodation and this generally means one of the international ho­tel chains.

But already the attitudes are changing and the more the market uses other hotels in Fiji the faster the attitudes will change.

China tourists are big users of social media, they take shots of everything they do in Fiji and send them back to China.

And everyone who sees the social media in China is exposed to the local hotels so we are moving towards these being acceptable.

Fiji has many attributes that are both ap­pealing to the Chinese tourist and unique to Fiji.

The Chinese see Fiji as a “real” and “genuine”destination.

They also see that the Fiji environment is clean and pure and the air is totally unpol­luted.

The people are friendly and not threatening and they do not act in a negative manner to­wards the Chinese nationals.

The local Chinese make up the third largest local ethnic group, so finding someone to talk to is not a real problem and there is a wide range of local Chinese cuisine.

China will become a very large and impor­tant source market for Fiji in a very short period of time. The Rosie Group is leading in marketing Fiji in China.

Infrastructure

The other factor that is important to the growth of the Fiji tourism industry will be the provision of infrastructure and activity is already in place to ensure that everything is ready.

There are a number of new hotels and re­sorts either in construction or planning that will ensure the bricks and mortar are meet the demand.

And we still have enough Fijians, the thing that binds the whole product together into a cohesive offering, so the opportunities for the future are amazing.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj



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