The expansion of route networks is always a key goal of any airline, but unless aircraft can be filled with passengers, that route will never be a success. We take a look at how airlines, airports and local tourism boards can and should be working together to develop healthy routes that really stimulate tourism.
Tourism and aviation are intrinsically linked
While the launch of a new route is often seen as a deal done between an airline and airport, there is a third even more important partner who needs to be involved. Tourism boards are responsible for stimulating visitor numbers and will have their own needs and strategies which airlines can look to support.
According to IATA, out of 1.4bn tourists crossing borders every year, more than half (57%) will arrive by air. Tourism stimulated by aviation is evaluated to have created approximately 37m jobs worldwide, and to contribute around $897bn a year to global GDP, a share of 10.4%. Between now and 2036, IATA expects this to rise by 3.7% annually.
IATA also point out that, if tourism is well managed with a strong support by air transport, it can reduce poverty levels through stimulated employment and associated benefits. It points to examples of Cabo Verde, Maldives and Samoa, nations which have graduated from Less Developed Countries (LDC) status, driven by the strong growth of aviation supported tourism.
Collaboration is the key to success
Airlines shouldn’t simply launch new services to random destinations. While noting gaps in service provision can be a good starting point, only through close collaboration can that route be assured of success.
By working in collaboration with local tourism boards and authorities, airlines and airports can develop strategies that not only meet the goals of the airline and its passengers but also stimulates tourism to the county in a measured, sustainable way.
Boosting tourist numbers won’t necessarily happen just by laying on a new route. By working alongside tourism boards, airlines can increase public engagement and awareness via well thought out campaigns. On the other side, tourism boards can ensure aviation is in line with economic development planning to drive growth.
Increased numbers of tourists require facilities and infrastructure equipped to handle additional footfall. This ranges from a plentiful supply of hotel rooms to decent airport road and rail networks, again something that will only come about through joined-up working and planning between stakeholders.
How tourism boards can connect with airlines
While tourism boards and airports have become increasingly sophisticated in terms of marketing and promotion, there is often still a gap in communication between them and the airlines which serve their countries. Airlines are more frequently looking to connect beyond the airports alone when considering new routes and are actively seeking to engage with tourism boards to inform and support their development.
One forthcoming event is aiming to take the hard work out of making and maintaining such connections. This months’ AviaDev Europe conference offers a chance for airlines to meet with both airports and their tourism boards to discuss future strategies and kick off route development for the future.
As part of the event, AviaDev will host a special Air Service Development Workshop for Tourism Boards on the first day of the event, 23rd October. Here, tourism boards can develop a better understanding of the process involved in route planning, helping them to work more effectively with airports and to secure connectivity of their destinations.
Hosted by TURISMO VALENCIA, the workshop promises to provide a comprehensive starting point for tourism boards looking to develop their aviation know-how. TURISMO VALENCIA themselves are a prime, working example of how this strategy can pay off.
AviaDev is hosting the workshop free of charge for tourism authorities. More information is available at the event website.