GEORGE NEWS - In March this year Allewijn Dippenaar and Mimi Finestone attended the Moscow International Travel & Tourism trade show in Russia as exhibitors for Adventures Garden Route and concluded that Russia a definite future market for the Garden Route. They tell us about the fabulous outcome of their visit.
Our strategy was clear: find a reputable media house that can work with us in partnership to create awareness of the Garden Route as a destination and its product offerings. Very much like the quote from the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams: 'Build it and they will come'. We found one - and not just anyone, but one of the best.
The media house was committed to discover the Garden Route as a destination for Russian-speaking people and we were serious to open new and exciting markets for the Garden Route. A mere three months after our visit to Moscow, a group of six arrived in South Africa for the first time and we were passionate to make their visit a trip of a lifetime.
The group included:
• Yuliia Isakina, editor-in-chief of the magazine World of Tourism (issuu.com/worldoftourism). It has won multiple international awards for the best travel magazine in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and is rightly considered one of the most prestigious tourism periodicals in the CIS region.
• Nataliia Kyiashko, an editor of www.mirtu.com, a travel portal about tourism that covers Ukraine and all Russian-speaking countries (Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia and Kazakhstan). It attracts 12 000 to 15 000 visitors per month.
• Igor Malaniuk, a journalist on the popular site www.weddingmagazine.com.ua which focuses on unique weddings and honeymoons. This site boasts more than 45 000 visitors per month. Malaniuk also has a blog about exotic weddings and honeymoons.
• Oleksiy Chebotarov, a journalist at www.experttur.com, which is popular among travellers and professionals in the tourism industry. Among their readers are travel agencies, airline representatives and businessmen.
We only had seven days to ensure that the Garden Route receives positive exposure to all Russian-speaking countries as a preferred adventure and romantic (wedding) destination.
A formidable team of our partners awaited our Russian guests to ensure that they fall head over heels in love with the Garden Route and all it has to offer. A mind once stretched, can never return to its previous level.
A large number of product holders worked together to make the visit of the Russian / Ukraine media house a reality. This did not happen by default, but through the cooperation of many product holders. We are confident that we have followed the best strategy by first creating a positive perception about the Garden Route. We know that we are ready, with the support of a media house, to talk to other tourism industry players in the Russian-speaking countries.
As a result of the relationship, two articles of six pages each were published in Wedding and World of Tourism and Travel about the Garden Route. We managed to get front page for the Garden Route!
The next step in the process to market the Garden Route as a preferred adventure tourism destination, is the Second Adventures Garden Route Indaba and Expo on Friday 25 October at the Wilderness Hotel from 09:00 to 13:00. The expo is open to the public from 14:00 to 18:00. Entrance is free.
The key points of discussion include strategy formulation to continue international and national marketing of the area, establishment of adventure centres, compilation of a product catalogue and tour packages.
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