What influence do visitor centres have on regional tourism in South Australia?

Greenhill Research and Planning recently completed the second stage of a 2 year project relating to the influence of visitor information centres in regional areas of South Australia on travel behaviour. A summary of the findings from the second stage has been published by Tourism Research Australia at  http://www.ret.gov.au/tourism/Documents/tra/Destination%20Visitor%20Survey/2012/DVS_SRR_SA_The_role_of_VICs_in_regional_SA_FINAL.pdf . The full report can be requested from TRA.

A survey of tourism operators was conducted for the study and it was found that visitor information centres were responsible for delivering 7% of operator sales, on average.

In an era in which tourism product is increasingly distributed online the research also found a significant proportion of operator revenue is still generated through direct mechanisms such as walk up (20% on average) and by phone (21% on average).   The findings relating to distribution can be accessed as a dashboard by clicking the link below. The chart can be filtered by operator type – hotel/motel, B&B/self-contained, caravan park, tour operator, attraction and cellar door.

Distribution dashboard

While some may feel that VICs are less relevant in the digital age, the qualitative component of the research found that consumers value the opportunity to discuss their travel plans with friendly and unbiased locals. This is particularly the case in an environment in which digital information sources may be regarded as less trustworthy due to bias, inaccuracy or lack of currency.

The project report provides analysis of the relationship between visitor centres and the promotion and distribution systems more broadly and provides recommendations relating to a range of issues including governance, relationship with operators, staffing, online distribution and travel agency registration.