01.14.13

South Africa Tourism, model for Kentucky Tourism!

Posted in Adventure Tourism, Bluegrass Region, Destination Tourism, Kentucky, South Africa, Tourism, Travel at 10:27 pm by Thomas

I am recently back from my third(3rd) trip to South Africa in the past year having spent a total of nearly 6 weeks there and I have learned quite a bit.  Most of what drove the South African Economy of the past was mineral(Gold, Diamonds, Rare Earth Minerals, etc…) wealth.  As that has begun to decline South Africa’s other major industry, tourism has come into its own.

I am not going to beat around the bush, the thing that South African Tourism does well, is to sell South Africa as a Destination and a one of a kind experience, somewhere you go and spend a week or two.  This is something that I don’t feel Kentucky does and I am sure I will get many people who will disagree with me on that, but at the very least I will get most of those people to agree we do not do it to the degree we could and should.

Now to be fair, South Africa has some natural advantages that Kentucky does not but Kentucky has a beauty that I would put up against any place in the World and its own unique character that makes it a Great Tourism Destination.  The key with Destination Tourism is that you really are trying to sell to a far off audience, like South African’s, Europeans or just about anybody else on the planet.

I feel there are 4 keys to developing Kentucky as a Great Destination.

  1. Natural Beauty – Kentucky has a beauty that comes through in pictures that people find alluring.
  2. Southern Charm – We do posses an inviting personality that people generally find as warm and relaxing after they have been here.  That is something a little harder to convey to people who haven’t been here but it is possible with the right marketing.
  3. Adventure Tourism – Everything from horse back riding, hiking, cycling, boating to the Kentucky Horse Park and Horse Shows.  Activities that people can do with just the clothes on their back and a couple of days.
  4. Location, Location, Location – Kentucky is very centrally located which allows someone to come here and do day and overnight trips to a number of key Cites and sites, such as Nashville or Chicago or Washington DC.  Even New York City or Disney World are simple plane flights away.

While in South Africa we actually did a day trip up to Botswana just to have that experience and to check out the new Bush Babies Lodge on the Limpopo River that separates South Africa from Botswana.  And on our way back to the States, we came via Europe and changed flights in Paris, France on New Year’s Eve just  to get in another destination.  Now to be fair, we were only on the ground 5 hours so didn’t have time to leave the airport, but still I have the experience of saying I was in Paris for New Year’s Eve 2013.

My point being, that is why everyone wants to travel to far off lands and sometimes even the State next door, is for the experience and I have come to the conclusion that there are 7 billion people on the planet that all want to come to Kentucky they just don’t know it yet.  I realize most of those 7 billion people don’t have that luxury of being able to travel that far but there are a lot of people who can and Kentucky needs to be on their list of Destinations they want to visit in their Life times.

Kentucky Colonel
Thomas Demond
KyWEGO