Conducting supply side research is an essential prerequisite to creating a strategic plan as the supply of tourism assets translates to its economic growth potential and shapes recommendations for the future of the industry. To create products such as long-term strategies, visions, and action plans, Solimar must first understand how tourism is currently developed in the destination of focus. Questions asked should include:
- What is the existing level of tourism infrastructure?
- What accommodations and attractions are available and of what quality?
- What kinds of flights are available at and what cost?
Solimar uses simple web sources such as Tripadvisor, Lonely Planet, and booking.com to help answer these questions and understand the challenges and opportunities present for tourism development in a country or region. Many countries and US states also have a dedicated tourism website that contain information on services, attractions and itineraries in the area. This type of research is also extremely valuable for individual travelers researching destinations when planning their own trips.
Using Supply Side Research to Inform a Destination Strategy
Solimar uses a standard set of factors to review a destination and assess the existing tourism supply. These consist of:
- Existing historical, cultural and natural attractions
- Areas of high biodiversity value, including national parks and protected areas
- Itineraries, routes, packages and the potential of creating connections with nearby destinations
- Hotels, rental properties, and the availability of other accommodation infrastructure
- Existing services (extent and quality) including airlift, transportation, accessibility, and health care facilities
- Environmental factors and biodiversity
- Existing tour companies servicing the destination (both inbound and outbound) and tours
- Extent of current tourism in area (flights, # of travelers, effect of cost), including any trends in arrivals
- Traveler behavior in area (where they go, level of spending, general satisfaction)
Other more general factors also merit attention. For example, political stability and economic climate can greatly affect a country’s ability to attract investment and tourism. In particular, reviewing government policy towards tourism at national, regional, and local levels is imperative as the government is a key stakeholder and will almost certainly be an important partner in developing tourism plans. Additionally, information about population dynamics, cultural heritage, geography, and history can inform decision making or simply serve as useful background knowledge.
Completing a destination review by gathering the relevant information and reviewing any prior strategies is a necessary preliminary step before any fieldwork takes place. The more information our consulting team has, the better prepared we will be to meet stakeholders on the ground, ask the critical questions, and demonstrate an understanding of local trends and issues. The gaps of information that are unavailable online or in print sources are then flagged to be gathered during the field assessment.
Although the pandemic is preventing travel currently, now is a great time to conduct your own supply side research to destinations on your bucket list. For ideas, check out Solimar’s list of projects.