With glistening blue oceans, undulating fields of fresh produce, mouth-watering food, world-class drinks, curious turtles and experiences that create memories to last a lifetime, it is easy to think the Bundaberg Region sells itself.
But when travellers are planning their ideal holiday, what is it that draws them to the Bundaberg Region over the countless other tourism destinations? The answer is collaborative marketing, and we all have a role to play.
Bundaberg Tourism Executive Officer Katherine Reid said research consistently showed word-of-mouth referrals were the predominant influence over where Australians holiday, shop, eat and stay.
“Studies show that 92 per cent of consumers will believe a recommendation from friends and family,” Katherine said.
“So while tourism industry efforts to promote the Region are vitally important, much of the success of ‘Brand Bundaberg’ lies in the hands of the community and our members.”
Luckily, studies show that most Bundaberg locals understand the positive influence tourism has on the Region’s economy and social fabric. In fact, 70 per cent of Bundaberg residents agree that tourism has a positive impact on the community and their personal quality of life, compared with 41 per cent across Queensland.
Bundaberg residents surveyed overwhelmingly agree that because of tourism there is greater cultural diversity (94 per cent), economic benefits (94 per cent), an increased regional profile (92 per cent) and increased local pride (80 per cent).
Bundaberg Tourism has spent the past 50 years collaborating with private businesses to turn the Region into its own iconic brand. Using integrated marketing and publicity campaigns (including Crush Magazine), the organisation has been sharing the authentic spirit of Bundaberg through meaningful storytelling to create ‘Brand Bundaberg’.
“While the community is our biggest advocate, we still need to reach digital-savvy travel intenders, who continue to dream and plan their perfect next holiday online. As a destination, we have exciting opportunities to engage, connect and influence holidaymaker decisions before they set foot in the Region,” Katherine said.
Bundaberg Tourism’s digital marketing strategy has increased the organisation’s website traffic by almost 54 per cent. There was a 29 per cent increase in engaged followers across the destination’s social media pages last year, demonstrating that people are interested in what Bundaberg has to offer.
Bucking less favourable industry trends occurring elsewhere across Queensland, many Bundaberg tourism businesses have experienced a 25 per cent increase on pre-COVID sales. More Queenslanders than ever before are spending their holidays and short-breaks snorkelling alongside turtles, tasting paddock-to-plate eats and sipping world-famous blends in our backyard.
So what’s driving this growth? In the past two years there has been a significant shift in tourism visitation and expenditure in the Bundaberg Region. With state borders closed and no international travel, the industry has become reliant on intrastate visitors.
After a tough couple of years, Queenslanders are making more conscious holiday choices; seeking meaningful connections with people and places that reinvigorate the soul. Consumers are spending time reconnecting with friends and family. They’re travelling for good through sustainable, eco-friendly experiences, like those we have here in the Bundaberg Region.
“Over the next few years, we anticipate these trends to further evolve. This, paired with increased confidence among locals and the dedication of our tourism operators, brings exciting development opportunities for business. We have everything these travellers are looking for – we just need to get it in front of them when they start planning their next holiday. The power of ‘Brand Bundaberg’ is building,” Katherine said.
“Here in Bundaberg, we’re incredibly fortunate to have well-established brands like Bundaberg Rum and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks. Recognised identities the world over, these two brands are intrinsically linked with the Queensland lifestyle, connecting with friends, family and local pride. The emotive connection they have with consumers helps to cement the Bundaberg Region in people’s minds, and we will continue to build on that.”
Katherine said visitors often came for the rum or turtles, but stayed longer to enjoy our pristine beaches, fresh produce and fantastic food.
“Visitors spend money in our cafes, clothing boutiques, camping stores and chemists, supporting thousands of jobs across a variety of sectors, including agriculture. Tourism also has benefits for environmental protection and scientific research, because visitors who have personally seen sea turtles, manta rays and humpback whales in their natural environment are far more likely to become advocates for these majestic animals in their everyday lives. Tourism truly is everybody’s business,” she said.