Fife tourism businesses changing their marketing strategies to attract visitors

New survey finds 77% have had to find new ways to retain business

Fife tourism businesses, hampered by VAT levels, patchy broadband service and big sporting events elsewhere, have had to revise the way in which they attract visitors. 77% of tourism businesses said they have had to change their marketing and business strategies since the economic turndown began in 2008.

The findings have been revealed by the Board of the Fife Tourism Partnership (FTP), which is a private sector led initiative to support and develop tourism business in Fife. Tourism is recognised as a strategic economic sector for the Fife economy and the Partnership is also supported by Fife Council.

Chair of the Partnership, John Parker of Morton of Pitmilly, said, “The survey gives us a clear picture of the challenges faced by tourism businesses in Fife. Of course we recognise the importance of big events like the golf but not everyone benefits from these, even in Fife, so it comes as no surprise that 93% of businesses felt no positive benefits from the London based Olympics. Few businesses anticipate much benefit from the Commonwealth Games. However, the issues highlighted in the survey are more fundamental – the high level of VAT compared to other countries, the patchy broadband service which makes marketing, bookings and communications problematic, and marketing the region.

“More positively, the findings showed how popular Fife is with visitors from overseas with guests coming from Europe, Scandanavia, North America, Australia and Japan. Uk based visitors remain a significant part of the market with the majority from England. While overall nearly half of the businesses saw a decrease in sales over the past five years, businesses have worked hard to retain regular guests with 26% reporting an increase in repeat custom this year.”

Businesses have used a variety of strategies to address the changing economic situation from reducing prices to developing added value package deals. Some have increased advertising and looked to target particular markets such as European tourists and many have hit online and social media sites to market themselves further. Trip advisor and similar sites are increasingly important in generating enquiries. Cluny Clays, an activity centre in Kirkcaldy, has embraced social media during the past year and now says about 40% of bookings come through their facebook site.

The Board of the Fife Tourism Partnership now plans to raise concerns about VAT and the broadband service with local MSPs and the Scottish Parliament.