Less than half of all visitors to Byron Shire described themselves as ‘very satisfied’ with their experience, according to a report commissioned by Byron Shire Council.
The Byron Shire Visitor Profile and Satisfaction (VPS) project is one of 76 completed in Australian regional tourist destinations since 2006.
Just 44 per cent of Byron visitors described themselves as ‘very satisfied’. The VPS average is 51 per cent. Only 15 of the 76 destinations surveyed scored worse than Byron.
The figure looks somewhat better when those people who considered themselves ‘very satisfied’ are combined with those who described themselves as ‘fairly satisfied’.
When these two figures are combined, about 87 per cent of visitors were satisfied with their visit to the Byron Shire, a similar proportion to the VPS benchmark (86 per cent).
A statistical analysis showed there were three key drivers of overall satisfaction, according to the report. These were:
• local atmosphere (89 per cent were satisfied overall; 57 per cent were very satisfied)
• variety of things to see and do (86 per cent; 45 per cent)
• attractions (80 per cent; 38 per cent).
With the exception of local atmosphere, the proportions for each key driver were similar to or less than the VPS benchmarks for satisfied overall and very satisfied, the report stated.
The only attributes where there were a higher than average proportion of visitors satisfied were food/beverage and entertainment/nightlife.
Chair of Council’s Tourism Advisory Committee councillor Basil Cameron said he was pleased with the result but admitted ‘there is plenty of room for improvement’.
‘This is the first time a survey of this kind has been undertaken with people visiting the Shire. The research will provide a good benchmark against any future surveys and enable Council to track whether we are improving or not.’
The report states, ‘Delivering quality tourism experiences is more than just delivery of the tourism product. The delivery needs to encompass all factors that contribute to the whole visitor experience including accessibility, supporting infrastructure, services and amenities, quality service delivery as well as the natural or urban environment.’
Cr Cameron said visitor dissatisfaction particularly arose from parking, local traffic in Byron Bay, public toilets and local roads.
‘Not surprisingly, these issues are also identified and acknowledged as community concerns,’ he said.
The report also said that more needed to be done to promote the region on the web.
‘The local industry should be encouraged to become more proficient in digital marketing and distribution, ensuring visitors can access information on the region easily on line,’ it stated.
While 71 per cent of respondents were repeat visitors just 39 per cent of all visitors were new to the region.
Contrary to popular impression, the highest proportion of visitors were families (39 per cent), 18 per cent were older working singles or couples, and 31 per cent were young/midlife singles or couples without kids.
The proportion in the young/midlife and family groups were above the VPS benchmarks.
The most common reason for choosing to visit the Byron Shire (30 per cent) was the variety of things to see and do, and the single most important reason (29 per cent) was to visit specific attractions.
Cr Cameron said the full Visitor Profile and Satisfaction Report will be considered by Council at its strategic planning meeting on 24 November 2011. Council’s Tourism Advisory Committee will provide further advice on its implications in December.
The research was completed as part of the Destination Visitor Survey Program (DVS) run by Tourism Research Australia (TRA), within the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.