Strategic Regional Research, SA: The impacts of regional Visitor Information Centres (VICs) on visitor behaviour in regional SA
This study examines the extent of the impacts of Visitor Information Centres (VICs) on tourist behaviour in regional areas of South Australia. It is the first stage of a two-part research project investigating the impact and role of regional VICs to the South Australian tourism industry.
This study was undertaken by Tourism Research Australia (TRA) and the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) to examine the extent of the impacts of Visitor Information Centres (VICs) on tourist behaviour in regional areas of South Australia. VICs play a central role in the distribution of tourism product1 through the provision of information; the bundling of tourism products; and by providing mechanisms for consumers to make, confirm and pay for reservations. VICs contribute to tourism yield by increasing the number of activities that a visitor will engage in and by increasing the time that a consumer will stay at a destination.
However, distribution of tourism and travel information has become fragmented in recent times with the increased usage of the internet and interactive web and mobile services. Independent travellers are now more likely to make decisions about their itineraries—including what they will see and do at a destination—as they travel. Although consumers access product online, they also seek confirmation and reassurance about the product. The opportunity to speak to knowledgeable and friendly locals is highly valued, and consequently, information derived from a visitor centre has been rated as more trustworthy, accurate and credible when compared to information derived from a web site.
As part of its Regional Growth Plan, the SATC is assessing the value of regional VICs and has implemented a research program consisting of two phases: a benchmark survey conducted in April 2011; and a follow-up survey to be conducted in April 2012. The research is intended to assist with realising the potential of the VIC network and its value in increasing tourism yield in South Australia. The key question to be addressed by the research is: “Once visitors are professionally informed of local, regional or state-wide services, do they spend more, do more, and do they stay longer?”