INCON Expert Article
5 Point Plan for Destination Resilience
By Ilanit Melchior
International tourism and conferences are significant contributors to economic growth and development. In fact the growth in the number of people attending events and meetings internationally has even outpaced national income growth in recent years.
Even though travel and tourism industry are clear economic drivers, unfortunately they are not protected from the sinister impact of terrorism.
In 2017, it seemed that almost every week another city around the world was at the center of a terrorism crisis or a natural disaster. This means that the issues of risk management, event and venue security, and crisis communication have never been more important to the industry.
In the current tourism arena, facing a crisis is not a question of if but more of when and how will we be prepared? In addition, international news channels and social media platforms can turn minor incidents into full-scale crisis, creating long-term impacts on a destination’s image, attractiveness and on revenue.
Smart event professionals view the recent surge of tragedies and understand that it’s an ideal time to protect their events and region moving forward.
What systems and tools can a destination set in place that benefits both regular tourism and the international meetings business?
With many years experience in tourism and with managing security challenges, Jerusalem has created a 5 point approach to manage security, perception and communications which hopefully will turn problems into opportunities.
1. Build Resilience
The local tourism industry needs to approach this new reality by conducting a fully integrated marketing strategy that combines crisis communication management. One of the first casualties of violence, is the image of a destination. Each destination needs to prepare a clear communication policy (PR, media, messaging) which should focus on getting the destination get back to normal as quickly as possible.
2. No Cancellations
While different events may carry various levels of risk for attendees, the importance of not cancelling the event is critical. Maintaining a strong and confident message throughout all crisis certainly helps the perception of a destination when future events need to be organized.
3. Set the Narrative
Due to the rise in citizen journalism and access to social media, tourists turn to social media for information for critical updates. During an event and during a crisis, make sure that all media sources are aware of the exact location of the event. By focusing the event to the specific location, the surrounding areas continue to operate in a normal manner. Additionally, by centralizing the information that is released, media are trained to stay on point and focus on the events at hand. Finally, any destination that wants to highlight its resilience and strength needs to clearly state overarching goals and content that all industry professionals need to integrate. By collaborating as one unified destination, the entire industry is prepared to approach any situation.
4. Know Your Audience
Each event and its participants will respond differently to a crisis which impacts the overall perception of the event. Managing the perceived safety of visitors is above all about having a strong communication plan and safety management program – that provides timely, accurate and informative messages, tailored to each target audience.
5. Safety Net
The financial benefits of hosting events at a destination are obvious. Unfortunately, a crisis or the perceived threat of a crisis can directly impact on the financial benefit of hosting an event. The local event industry or destination should work with government officials to put in place a safety net that protects clients from potential losses which result from crisis.
As an industry, we need to examine and discuss how to respond to current challenges and the responses that are needed by destination marketers and by the broader tourism industry. We also need to learn how to manage and recover from crises and what are the best practices in destination resilience.
International Tourism Security Summit (ITSS)
The Jerusalem CVB is organizing the first International Tourism Security Summit (ITSS) to serve as a platform to discuss these issues and to provide a collaborative environment to consider tangible solutions. This pioneering
summit will focus on destination marketing and image management, in an era of security instability, terrorism and crises. We hope that the summit will provide a meeting place for any tourism and hospitality decision maker, marketer, operator and security professional that may be affected by a crisis or a security event. ITSS is also relevant for all those involved in the tourism industry in general and for Tourism Bureau in particular due to their vulnerability to security instability.
The conference will take place on October 7-9, 2018 in Jerusalem, Israel. For more information please visit http://www.tourismsafety.org
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Director of Tourism
Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA)
Mrs. Ilanit Melchior is the Director of Tourism for the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA), a position she has held since 2009, before which she served as Managing Director of Start Up Jerusalem, a non-profit focused on the economic development of the city of Jerusalem. The JDA is responsible for the economic progress and development of the city, a key part of which is tourism that represents an economic engine of growth across the different socio-economic and population groups in the city.
As Director of Tourism, Ilanit oversees the strategic development and implementation of the national and international projects aimed at promoting tourism in Jerusalem, including the development of new hotel complexes, conservation and preservation projects, and tourism products; including the International Jerusalem Marathon, the Jerusalem Opera Festival and many others. Central to her initiatives is the newly launched Jerusalem Conventions and Visitors Bureau, which is a one-stop-shop offering logistical support and financial incentives to conference organizers and initiators.