TRAVEL confidence is back, according to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), which says the fading of the fear factor has led to the strong recovery of global tourism in 2004, particularly in Asia- Pacific and the Americas.
Most destinations in the Middle East with monthly data available continue the good performance of 2003 and the beginning of 2004, based on the continued strong development of the intra-regional market. Lebanon, for example, received 42 per cent more tourists from the Arab generating market up to July 2004, while the total number grew by an estimated 30 per cent. Other destinations such as Dubai (up 9 per cent), Bahrain (up 19 per cent) and Jordan (up 18 per cent) also benefited from such strong demand states the WTO.
The Middle East continues to be one of the key geographic areas generating visitors for many countries. For example, a total 332,000 visitors travelled from the Middle East to the UK in 2002 spending sterling 495 million and in 2003 the total arrivals were 425,000 spending 800 million sterling.
Over the period to 2010, outbound tourism trips from the Middle East are expected to grow by an average annual rate of 5.5 per cent, increasing from 27.6 million in 2001 to 44.8 million by 2010. The rate of growth of intra-regional travel is expected to be higher than for long-haul travel as investment in tourist products in Middle Eastern countries grows during the forecast period.
For tourism product development, in what is becoming an increasingly competitive arena, it is necessary for destinations to market their countries and regions in a targeted and effective way to thus secure a greater market share, increase visitor arrivals and increase visitor spend. This is the aim of representation offices who are responsible for the development of programmes that position and sell destinations through various marketing initiatives.
One of these representation offices is Fusion Marketing Management, a Dubai-based marketing agency who has been appointed to aggressively promote tourism into the Sultanate of Oman. The firm was appointed by the newly-formed Omani Tourism Ministry which was recently established by a Royal Decree as part on a on-going drive to promote Oman in countries in the wider Arab region and internationally. As the latest market based representative (MBR), Fusion will be responsible for executing a holistic campaign that would comprehensively promote Oman in the GCC countries through marketing campaigns aimed at the general public to more targeted relationship building activities aimed at the travel trade.
Fusion believes that their approach to achieving market share is based on the delivery of an integrated approach that brings together all the elements of the marketing mix to ensure the achievement of three goals: a communication synergy with clear positioning; strategy integration through the various elements within the marketing mix with local market holistic service provision; and the effective return on investment in the communications process for clients.
This, they say, is achieved through an in-depth knowledge of the tourism industry from the inside as well as consultancy experience backed by the heavyweight academic and industry experience of the management team. “In our view, an integrated representation approach driven from a central marketing strategy ensures maximum return on investment in the marketing dollar invested by governments looking at developing their tourism potential,” said Nicki Page, executive director of Fusion Marketing Management.
“We have moved away from the traditional sales led strategies of GSAs in the region and looked at sales as one element within the marketing mix to be utilised within the marketing philosophy approach to the business. What we are doing is building the brand for the destination and then implementing a strategy to actualise increased tourism business.”