RETOSA-WES Workshop on Strategic Tourism Destination Management

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From December 3-13,2012, the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA) and WES vzw (Brugge, Belgium) hosted a 10-day workshop at the RETOSA offices in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Organized by RETOSA and sponsored by the Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs, the workshop was targeted at high-level management and senior executives in tourism destination management, tourism product development, tourism marketing, and tourism communication of public and private organizations.

The main aim of the workshop was to develop Strategic Destination Management competencies to targeted key staff members of tourism destination management organizations (DMOs) from RETOSA Member States. These competencies enabled them to achieve increased visitor satisfaction; improved competitiveness; and ensure economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

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This was the first of several workshops to be run jointly between RETOSA and WES. A total of 18 participants came from the following Member States: Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. Mozambique was not able to send a participant.

Participants of the workshop gained the following:

1. Improved knowledge and a better understanding of successful Destination Management.

2. Introduction of creative and innovative concepts, ideas, products, and methods.

3. In-depth understanding and usage of the social media in Destination Management.

The program content was provided by Ivan Landuyt, Strategic Planner; Christiane Gunst, Tourism Expert; and Els Ameloot, Marketing and Communication Expert from WES.

Feedback from participants at the workshop has been very positive and many of them found the program to be beneficial, affirming that they will use a lot of the skills gained at the workshop to implement their destination management programs. Also, participants took home a training package which contained useful course material that will enable them to formulate an effective management and marketing strategy for their destinations using different approaches. It was also observed that with the rise of technological advancement, it is important for organizations to embrace the use of online media as a tool in marketing strategies, especially how to use social media as a marketing tool. At the end of the workshop each participant was able to formulate and elaborate a strategic plan for their destination successfully.

RETOSA would like to thank all participants of the workshop for contributing to its success and WES as well as the Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs for their unwavering support. The next workshop will be held between August and September 2013. Participants for the second workshop will be drawn from the following countries: Angola, DR Congo, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

RETOSA is a member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP), a fast-growing grassroots travel and tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth.