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  • Drive Tourism

24th February 2017

What is drive tourism and what does it mean to tourist destinations?

Tourism and Events Queensland describes the drive tourism market as “visitors who travel for leisure and use a vehicle to reach their destination. This includes both day trips and overnight trips to one or more destinations.”

This is a growing market with stats (for the year ending September 2016) indicating that for people taking caravan or camping holidays, there were over 11.78 million overnight stays. This is a 13{8e6d983e74874acb387086f732b9e8bca692130348b310c73ee91b097eb7ecc6} increase over the previous year.

And it’s not just grey nomads. Of the campers and caravanners, 46{8e6d983e74874acb387086f732b9e8bca692130348b310c73ee91b097eb7ecc6} were aged 30-54, 29{8e6d983e74874acb387086f732b9e8bca692130348b310c73ee91b097eb7ecc6} were over 55 and 18{8e6d983e74874acb387086f732b9e8bca692130348b310c73ee91b097eb7ecc6} were in the 20-29 age group.

The drive market is characterised by people who:
  • like independence and the freedom to discover and experience new places
  • usually, seek to experience the scenery and the natural environment
  • don’t have set plans about where they will go and what they will see – so their plans change on route
  • often base their decisions on the recommendations of locals or other travellers
So, how do these self-drive tourists get information about where to go and what to do?

Google research shows that visitors start researching a destination online, using multiple devices and sources (eg; website and social media) before their visit. And websites along with technologies such as mobile apps and GPS-triggered information are used especially “during the trip” stage. So, easy access information on their mobile devices and to the internet (i.e. FREE Wifi) is critical.

But, visitors still get information in traditional ways. They still seek out the Visitor Information Centre (VIC), they want brochures and a map of the area, and to find out what to do and where to find things. A knowledgeable and motivated staff at the VIC are viewed as key to superior visitor experiences. And guess what, it’s not just the oldies who like the old-fashioned offline materials?

And good signage is important, with studies showing that only accommodation rates higher in creating positive impressions of a place.

So, what does this mean for destinations?

To cater to the growing self-drive market, destinations must consider how to provide high quality, interesting and current information to visitors before, during and after their trip. And this needs to be done in a variety of online and offline ways. Free Wifi is a must!

One strategy that works well is to create regional tourism experiences so there are enough experiences and activities to make a visit to the area worthwhile. This means working with neighbouring shires/Councils and pooling resources. Potentially creating things liked themed drive trails, where many communities can benefit. It also recognises that visitors don’t care about political or geographic boundaries (i.e borders between towns, shires, states – other than the occasional photo opportunity) don’t care about political boundaries.