Similarly, a tourism experience to the Whitsundays has little to do with the individual elements these beautiful Islands have to offer like the colourful coral, fresh ocean breezes or glassy waters. Tourists tend to travel to this heavenly place for the total package, the resort activities, dining, entertainment and relaxation.
If you visit Western Australia during the right season, you will have to opportunity to immerse yourself in the colourful floral displays of kangaroo paws and banksias, with unique blooms littering alongside the highways. You may also visit the old WWII Albany Harbour where the US submarine base use to be and learn a little history along the way… but what you will take home is the overall experience, memories and highlights the West has to offer.
Baptist Minister and Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson has developed a philosophy on tourism ministry over three decades and says that this 'overall experience' has become the primary focus of his research.
Mark Tronson lives in Tweed Heads, on the southern end of the Gold Coast, a major tourist destination but he has also spent time in some more underdeveloped and less heard of places. He spent fourteen years in Moruya on the southern NSW coast where he ran 'Australia's Bush Orchestra,' a Christian tourist attraction in a natural area of the ironbark forest where the birdsong was spectacular.
Running a tourist attraction has given Mark experience and insight into the tourism ministry and he has presented many seminars to churches on main tourist routes. His workshops explain his philosophy which he has set out along the following guidelines.
Every popular (or aspiring) tourist area requires an image that inspires the imagination of potential visitors. The Gold Coast, for example, has cultivated a variety of attractions over several decades, including the 1960's Meter Maids (for car parking), amusement parks (for the families) and high rise apartments along the beach (for the sun, surf and climate). The Hunter region (Newcastle) promotes its wineries, the Great Ocean Road its spectacular scenery; Cairns its SkyRail, Island Resorts and the Great Barrier Reef, and Mackay as the gateway to the Whitsundays.
But natural attractions are never enough. To attract tourists and money into these areas, there is a need for upmarket accommodation as well as plenty of differently priced eating places like restaurants, pubs, clubs and snack bars.
A variety of professionally operated tourist attractions need to be on tourist pathways and byways, so that tourists feel they have 'discovered them by themselves'. It is often the most inconspicuous tourist site or knick-knack shop that excites visitors the most and leaves a lasting impression.
"This is why antique-type shops are so well patronised. They are out-of-the-ordinary sites…just like my Australian Bush Orchestra," says Mark.
Mark believes he has found the essential ingredients to attract tourists and that the role of the local Council tourism office should be to promote all three. Sadly, the trend is to emphasise the first two, but leave the third sector, usually operated by a small enterprise, to fend for itself.
As well as being involved in tourism activities, Mark Tronson has been ministering to those who operate businesses aimed at tourists through his mission, Well-Being Australia. Some of these proprietors have either struggled, or have not been able to make a go of their businesses due to the high price of advertising necessary to draw in the tourists.
Mark feels that many councils in tourism-attracting areas could do more to help the small businesses which will enhance the 'overall holiday experience' the tourists take home. In turn this would promote word of mouth advertising and bring more tourists to the area to see these 'hidden' attractions.
At present, the major forms of advertising tourist attractions is in colourful, glossy magazines produced by Tourism Offices and information centres staffed by the Councils. Online advertising is also popular.
Since tourist operators already pay a membership fee to the Shire Tourism Organisation in many tourist-attracting areas, Mark Tronson believes small businesses should be entitled to free advertising and in the case that this wouldn't cover costs, residents should pay a levy. After all tourism generates huge money and benefits the whole region.
"It should be in the interest of any Shire Council to ensure that its small operators of tourist sites off the beaten track are cared for just as well as the large hotels. A more vibrant and knowledgeable tourist population will feed on itself – tourists will tell others of the small antique shop or home-made pie they have found, when they go back to their hotel of an evening – and this will enhance the overall tourism experience of locals, small businesses and holidaymakers alike," says Mark Tronson.