Dandegong Ranges in Victoria is one of Australia’s breathtaking tourist destination sites. It is located an approximately 38km from Melbourne. The whole park occupies an area of 3400ha (Bennett, 2003, p. 179). It is a haven full of lush green towering forests coupled with gardens of fern glades and an outstanding variety of eclectic villages. The site’s serene environment is ideal for retreats from the hustle and bustle of city life.
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The legal environment requires that the management, Parks Victoria, prepares a plan on programs it has to implement every year under the Parks Victoria Act 1998. The management is required to prepare an annual report under the National Parks Act 1975 as well (Parks Victoria “Management Planning”, n.d). Under the Traditional Owners Act 2010, Park Victoria is considering a joint management with Aboriginal owners (Parks Victoria, “Aboriginal Joint Management”, n.d).
Ecological concerns require that all activities being conducted in the Ranges be conservative with the environment. Dandenong Ranges management takes into consideration social factors such as inclusion of Traditional Owners’ insight on management issues (Director of National Parks 2011).
The tourism industry in Australia is experiencing shortage of skilled workers, difficulty in securing funds, changes in exchange rates, and shortage in accommodation services (McCarthy 2012, para. 1). These have an impact in reducing international competitiveness. Dandenong Ranges exist in an industry experiencing local, and international competitive forces. It has to suit both market segments depending on variations of the seasons.
Competitiveness on the local market considers other high ranking tourist attractions. These include Healesville Sanctuary, Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre, Scienceworks, Werribee Open Range Zoo, Melbourne Zoo, among others. These offer features that act like substitutes because they are not exactly similar to Dandenong Ranges natural vegetation.
It is a public park offering facilities for recreational activities such as mountain biking, and has a 20km trail which gives riders an exciting course for riding. The course has been designed to suit all age brackets. There is also a lake where visitors can engage in canoeing, sailing, surf, skiing and paddle boating. In addition, there are also walking trails for those interested in taking part in nature walks. These include 3 trails which are linked to offer a two-hour-walk experience around the lake (Taylor, 1999, p. 130).
Grampians National Park
This park offers tranquil walking track facilities where visitors can view wildlife, wildflowers, and experience fresh air on a mountain-top. Visitors can also enjoy gentle strolls through the park in order to experience a firsthand wilderness adventure. There are also sports for outdoor activities such as rock climbing and hiking, kayaking and canoeing along rivers, and mountain lakes (Uden, 2005, p. 317).
Compared to U.S.A., Australia is more price competitive, but it is less competitive than Thailand. Dwyer, Forsyth, & Dwyer (2010, p. 779) consider that “price competitive indices are estimated from the perspective of tourists from the UK, Japan and Singapore assuming they would purchase the same bundle of goods in Australia, USA, and Thailand.” Price competitiveness are also affected by changes in exchange rates. Strengthening of the Australian dollar reduces international competitiveness.
Dandenong Park is about an-hour-drive from Melbourne. This makes it a preferable choice for those people who do not want to take a long time preparing for long journeys. City residents can visit for weekend retreats as there is no need for proper preparations. The cost of transport and time spent on roads is greatly reduced compared to further sites.
It has perfect spots for holding picnics, fitness walks and exploring the natural scenery. There are plenty of facilities for visitors such as restaurants, cafes, galleries, and curio shops. The park is relatively large and visitors have a wide range of natural sceneries, wildlife and features to sample. The park is well maintained and secure.
The park has a long and bad history with feral animals, and as a result a cat curfew is in place to protect the natural wildlife such as lyrebirds. The mountain range has been invaded by Melbourne’s TV and radio transmission masts which create a want for visitors to soar their sight resulting in interference with the serene environment. Due to poor fencing especially along the main road, vehicles can enter the park illegally.
The Australian dollar has strengthened over major world currencies reducing the price competitiveness of the destination. Being close to the city, and the presence of locally based tourists hedges out international tourists. There are several attractions near the city such as museums which act like substitutes. The Dandenong Ranges suitability relies on variations of seasons such that in winter it is covered by snow. It relies on spring and summer seasons.
The management of Dandenong Ranges can partner with corporate groups that want to shoot promotional videos of their products at the site. This will augment the marketing efforts from both sides. Targeting large groups such as families, colleges, schools, and organizations that seek a retreat or team building can increase the number of visitors by a big margin.
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The Australian tourism industry relies on domestic as well as on the foreign market. Tourist arriving in Australia were estimated to be 5.53 million in 2010. Revenues from the tourism industry amounted to US$31.75 billion, and U$33.63 in 2011. There are projections that the revenues will increase to US$46.12 by 2015. This provides space for expansion. It may also encourage long-term investments in the Australian tourism Industry (Research and Markets “Australia tourism Report Q1 2011”).
Forest fires are a threat in the tourism industry where vegetation cover is the main attraction. In the past 10 years, Australia has experienced three major catastrophic bush fires. The Black Saturday Fires/Victorian Bush Fires of 7th Feb, 2009, the Canberra Urban fires of 8th Jan, 2003, and the Black Sunday Fire, Perth, of 5th Feb, 2011. The Victorian Bush Fire destroyed 4,500 sq.km of forest cover (Armitage et al. 2011, p. 24). If bush fires occur, they may reduce quality of vegetation and the area on which tourism may occur.
Key features to be promoted
The main features of the Dandenong Ranges are the colorful natural vegetation, and the wide area in which it spreads. The Dandenong Ranges glamour is observable in the springs and summer seasons. As noted in Plan Book Travel, the environment is “colorful, inviting and cool, especially in summer, the Dandenongs are popular for day trips” (para. 2).
Justification for their inclusion
The panoramic view of the city and its suburbs is something that only the Mount Dandenong which stands at 633metres above sea level can provide close to Melbourne. The serene colorful natural environment is what creates a distinction with its competitors.
Evaluation of promotional materials
Promotional materials are categorized under elegant accommodation services, and the beautiful scenery. Parks Victoria runs a website by the title “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” as its brand. Many promotions emphasize the abundance of natural colors in the environment. Accommodation services distinguish themselves as luxurious. While accommodation services may portray relevance to those who want to stay overnight or longer, daytime trips are also marketed to the city residents.
Parks Victoria supports a website that holds a 2.35-minute promotion of the plant and bird species found on Dandenong Ranges (Parks Victoria “Dandenong Ranges Promo”). The cafes that can be used by daytime tourists. The promotion mentions the site as a favorite for walks, family gatherings, and picnics being only an-hour-drive from the city.
Cloudehill Nursery, Gardens and café as presented on the website visitvictoria.
Lysterfield Park is also marketed as “home of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Mountain Bike Event”. The video for the Anaconda Enduro Series-Round 2 Lysterfield (Part 1) shows visitors who are ready to enter the biking competition. It has records on participants’ views (Joetutt 2011). Lysterfield Park is mainly marketed as a biking destination.
Other attractions at the site include “forest settings, hill tops and northern fringes of the Lake that offer solitude, close-to-nature experiences and good views” (Parks Victoria 2009, p. 15). Lysterfield Park received an annual visit of about 120,000 people during the 1996-1997 period.
Grampians Park is portrayed as a wide area with rocks of different types and shape. The culture of ancient Aborigines has been described by the carvings, and the marks they left in caves and on rocks. As described on a promotional video on “YouTube”, it is a site fit for bush-walking, romantic dinners, weddings, soul-searching among others. Its main features are the rock-piles, waterfalls, and wildflowers (Toshtwenty 2009).
Mckenzie Falls on Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park “attracts more than 800,000 visitors each year” (Grampians Community Health n.d., para 2). It is a long distance from Melbourne about 258 kilometers.
Yarra Ranges National Park
It is located 92km from Melbourne on the east and well protected by authorities since it is the catchment area for Melbourne’s water. The park has a variety of wildlife species including the Leadbeater’s Possum which falls under the list of endangered species. It is home to more than hundred and twenty bird species and forty mammal species (Taylor 1999, p. 84).
Target market for Dandenong Ranges
Daytime visitors are estimated to be the highest among tourists who visit Dandenong. It is noted that “international visitors and overnight visitors form a small percentage of visitors to the area” (Yarra Ranges council 2011, p. 5) According to Yarra Ranges Council, SkyHigh receives 640,000 visitors annually. Grants Picnic Ground, and Puffing Billy receive 560,000 and 260,000 respectively. The estimated value from “tourism expenditure is $196 million annually and a gross regional output of $354 million” (Yarra Ranges Council 2011, p. 4).
Branding refers to the process of creating value association, meaning and an invisible spirit to a product, service or even a destination. The brand is made to exist in the mind of the customer (Baker, 2007, p. 23). Branding will be aimed at marketing the unique features of the destination. This will trigger the target market to have an experience of this destination (Cai et al, 2009, p.101). The slogans to be used will include “Spring of life”, “Paint your heart with your favorite color”, “Accept nature’s generosity” or “vastness of nature’s flamboyance”.
This image is good for a brand image because it portrays an array of colors, and water birds. Colorful plants, and bird species are the key features for Dandenong promotion.
To substantially increase the number of visitors, promotional materials should target group functions such as corporate team building exercises, and family get-together. The vastness of the park’s area makes it more competitive than its substitute destinations. The international visitors to the site should not be considered negligible.
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