Supporting Global Development through Sustainable Tourism

5 Roles of a Good Destination Information Center

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    In the simplest of definitions, a destination information center is a physical location where travelers can go to acquire information about the destination. For a long time, destination information centers played a key role as the middleman linking tourists and suppliers to one another. With the advances in technology and consumer/local demands, destination information centers have evolved. Today, not only do they provide information, they also generate revenue, collect data on travellers, market the destination, and engage the local community. This evolved approach to destination information centers makes them sustainable and valuable to both the local community and the incoming tourists. Here is some insight into the five key roles of a good destination information center:

    1)   Sourcing of and delivering up-to-date information

    The primary purpose of a destination information center is still the same today: a one-stop, physical location from which travelers can connect to local businesses and services. A physical location conveys the perception that the destination is visitor-friendly and encourages community ownership of tourism. A destination information center should be welcoming, personable, and stocked with all of the necessary materials to provide current, accurate, and trustworthy information. To satisfy an international visitor, a visitor center needs to ensure:

    • There is an on-site employee either fluent in the tourist’s language or English
    • A master guide to the destination is available
    • A local city guide is available
    • Maps and directions can be provided
    • Practical information, such as public toilets, public/private transport information, location of ATMs/banks/currency exchange, is available on hand, and 
    • Local products/supplier information is up to date

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    2)   Revenue Generation

    Although destination information centers provide a welcoming environment for visitors & locals to meet, learn about the destination, and plan their trip - a physical location has operational costs. To offset these costs, a destination information center can generate revenue through a variety of the following ways:

    • 2 1Booking commissions
    • Sale of maps, posters, guidebooks, and other publications
    • Sale of local art and handicrafts
    • Sale of visitor survey data
    • Local tour guiding services
    • Café and other foods 
    • Photocopying, fax, email, and internet access
    • Sale of Guidebooks, brochures (hotels, dining, sightseeing)
    • Currency Exchange

     

    3)   Data collection

    It is imperative these days to understand whom you are serving, what they want, and how they behave so that the destination can remain competitive and develop overtime in response to the market. A destination information center can act as a center point in capturing, analyzing, and supplying this essential tourism data to the government and local stakeholders so that they understand the current situation and start a dialogue on how to appropriately develop, market, and sell the destination. A few of the things that can be included in the survey are as following:

    • Length of Stay
    • Places they plan on visiting
    • Trip Expenditure, etc.

     

    4)   Marketing

    A destination information center can also market the destination on behalf of the local suppliers, depending on the structure of a DMO. A visitor center has access to local contacts, products/services, and a variety of information on the destination. This positions them strategically to market the destination. They can easily generate content for marketing, in order to reach the desired market and possibly inspire them to travel to the destination. Marketing channels can be a website, social media, and any other identified ones that will prove effective for your destination.

     

    5)   Local Engagement

    4Visitor centers can also engage local tourism suppliers and the greater community. The local engagement allows for an opportunity to build an understanding with locals on the concept of tourism and how it benefits the community. Plus, the visitor centers can collaborate with local businesses, the public sector, and other potential partners to introduce new initiatives to celebrate/improve the locality and quality of life. Farmers markets, festivals, and a community beach clean up are examples of such initiatives. This allows for visitor centers to not only connect with the community, but also legitimize their value and gain acceptance amongst the community. Moreover, visitor centers can incorporate spaces such as picnic areas, meeting rooms, playgrounds or cafes to encourage local and visitor interaction. Which in turn means there will be minimal amounts of conflict between tourists and locals in the long run.

     

    With the changing times, the role of visitor centers has evolved and become an integral part of the tourism process. They are now the bridge between the travellers and the local community, looking out for the interests of both. The centers are aiding just as much in community development as showcasing destinations to the world. Solimar International recognizes the importance of these centers and can help your destination establish one that facilitates tourism development. To learn more, please visit our Tourism Information Center Management page by clicking here. You will also find our related projects in Panama and Guatemala on that page. To learn more about destination management, and establishing visitor centers, please download our free toolkit:

    TDM 

     

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    Last modified on Monday, 21 July 2014 19:28

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