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No seasonal break for SW operators

THE Winter Breaks promotion run by the Western Australian Tourism Commission (WATC) has been a huge success for many tourism operators in WA’s South West.

The promotion, which has been running in various forms for 12 years, has resulted in some accommodation operators attracting so many winter guests they no longer need to be included in the promotion.

“We find it a very encouraging sign that some business (which have been featured in the Winter Breaks promotion in the past) don’t need to go into the program any more because they’ve been able to educate people to go on holidays during the winter,” WATC general manager of national marketing, Grant Goodall, said.

Even operators who have only participated in the promotion this year have found significant success.

“Some people who have just come in this year are ecstatic,” Mr Goodall said.

“People have said their phones have rung off the hooks and their bookings are up considerably as a result of the program.

“We often get glowing reports after the event, people singing the program’s praises.

“We’ve got happy customers out there. They wouldn’t come back if they weren’t.”

A key part of the Winter Breaks promotions is the well known annual Winter Breaks brochure. Along with the brochure, this year the WATC also has used radio advertisements, TV commercials featuring Elle MacPherson and cross promotion with Channel Nine’s travel show Postcards.

But Mr Goodall warns that it’s not all smooth sailing and full beds for all South West operators during winter.

“It’s an individual business thing. We find a lot of operators south of Perth do still have a tough time of it during winter,” Mr Goodall said.

“It very important (to keep the promotion going) because the winter for many operators in that part of WA still represents the quieter months.”

He said one of WATC’s briefs was to create an even market mix whereby just as many tourists visited regions in winter as in summer.

“There’s no need to heavily promote over high periods (like summer). Most of the accommodation is full at those times and it is not when they need to push the business the most,” Mr Goodall said.

According to Tourism Council of WA president Laurie O’Meare, tourism operators are very happy with the amount of publicity being generated by the WATC’s Winter Breaks promotion.

“I haven’t heard negative comment at all,” Mr O’Meare said of the program.

“I don’t think there is a lot more you can do than is being done.

“I think the winter program is doing its job, it’s up to the people in the regions then to take advantage of that situation (so) that the people who go down there in the off season are given an opportunity to fully appreciate the different holiday advantages.”

Mr O’Meare said that, now large numbers of tourists were visiting the South West during winter, it was imperative that tourism operators offered the best possible service, encouraged repeat business, offered activities that might encourage visitors to extend their stays and promoted the quality of products and services.

“Good accommodation and good products are terribly important for operators who want to fully utilise as much of the year as possible,” he said.

“There needs to be service at the other end of the promotion.

“You can get people down there, but once they get there it has got to be a good service.

“The people down there have got to accept responsibility that they have to make it a worthwhile experience.

“Individual operators can do their own things to encourage tourists. I heard of one having a mystery weekend, with structured game playing, like murder in the attic.

They’re the sorts of things that can get people interested in going down and adding on an extra day.”

Mr Goodall credits the success of the promotion not only to the promotion itself, but the quality of service on offer in the southern regions during the winter period.

“Its success is a result of what those individual businesses do,” he said.

“The Winter Breaks program would have to be a major part of the reversal for those business, as well as what they are doing for their won markets.”

Mr Goodall said that, although the Winter Breaks promotion was started primarily to aid tourism and accommodation businesses in the South West, in recent years other regions had shown interest in becoming involved.

“It was primarily put in place for the South West to create a vehicle for the industry to get more tourists into their places during low and shoulder periods,” he said.

“But there are other regions now that are interested in participating.

“We do have a lot of new people come on every year and use the program as a vehicle to market during that winter period.

“We’re finding that some of the northern regions are wanting involvement.

“We’ve had operators as far north as the Pilbara interested in coming in this year and through the Mid West and inland to Kalgoorlie.”

According to figures collected by the WATC, well over 30,000 extra bed nights were created for the 200 or so participants in last year’s Winter Breaks program.

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