A Brazilian friend and his Peruvian wife – leaving Lima within the next few days for an extended European trip – have just emailed to say they hadn’t realised they’d need a separate visa for the UK. Looks like their plan to spend a few days with us may have to be shelved.
A Swiss family holidaying with us last year were fascinated by the squirrels in St James’s Park. They’re non-existent – or at least rare – in Switzerland. We spent longer than planned while the kids trailed squirrels to their hearts’ content.
Our Swedish guests were entranced by the straight, plain horizon out to sea off Sussex: their coast, they explained, was “cluttered” with islands. They loved our balmy January weather too.
We told an American visitor it was easy to get to us: there were “regular” trains from Gatwick Airport to Brighton. He thought we meant once or twice a day.
These are just a few reminders – no doubt you have your own – that in tourism we need to see things through our customers’ eyes. That’s important (if challenging) when we’re talking about international visitors. And it’s vital when looking at domestic markets too.
At destination planning stage, there’s no substitute for time spent identifying and understanding target markets before thinking about what you are going to offer, and what you’re going to highlight as the special features of your destination. Not forgetting all those other logistical things that visitors need to know too, like visas and transport links.
Finally, a colleague just told me she knows a Mid-West American living in England, whose pa won’t visit her ‘cos he can’t bring his gun. Now there’s something we can’t do anything about (thankfully)!