People before places: tourism guru

Headshot of Liam Croy
Liam CroyAlbany Advertiser
Email Liam Croy
Tourism guru Guy Taylor is at the end of his quest to find the heart and soul of WA.
Camera IconTourism guru Guy Taylor is at the end of his quest to find the heart and soul of WA. Credit: Liam Croy

Hundreds of millions of people are eager to escape the “teeth of the machine” and experience the isolation, vastness and characters places like the Great Southern have in spades.

That is the message from Australian tourism guru Guy Taylor, who dropped into Albany at the end of his six-month tour to find the heart and soul of WA.

Mr Taylor met with tourism operators from across the region at a workshop on Thursday, encouraging them to look beyond “features and benefits” to experiences which could emotionally connect with visitors.

He recently helped rescue Tasmania’s ailing tourism industry, creating the stories behind the State’s “Go Beyond the Scenery” campaign, which coincided with a 15 per cent annual rise international tourism. The McGowan Government wants him to work his magic for WA, but the Premier and his tourism minister might have to accept that their beloved quokka is unlikely to play a starring role.

“Anyone can do demographically appropriate couples, food and wine, native animals and sunsets and sunrises,” Mr Taylor said.

“You’ve got all of that...problem is, everyone else is doing it as well.”

Mr Taylor will take what he has learnt from his 14 workshops across WA and weave a narrative to present to the Tourism WA board within two months.

Written with the help of Australian author David Whish-Wilson, the narrative will be supported by feedback from the workshops.

It will then underpin Tourism WA’s next marketing campaign.

Mr Taylor said it was the experiences and people which could set a place apart. The shanty singers in Albany, for example, were more distinctive than a kangaroo or a beautiful sunset.

“(The shanty singing) is something that you can unpack and start to talk about it that’s quite compelling because it focuses firstly on people,” Mr Taylor said.

“It has a great sense of heritage about it. It’s historically connected and people are looking for more local these days.

“Local’s not a place you find find on a map.”

Albany is sometimes thought of as just a little too far from Perth for visitors but Mr Taylor said the isolation should be viewed as an asset.

With all of its ruggedness and vastness, the Great Southern was not a “flop-and-drop” location. There had to be reward for effort.

“There are hundreds of millions of people across the planet that are looking for exactly that,” he said.

“They want to escape the teeth of the machine. Do you reckon they more of this? (points to his iPhone).

“Albany’s perfectly positioned — the whole South West is perfectly positioned.

“I reckon you’d switch it on in a second if you had big planes flying in.”

As for his favourite part of Albany, it was not The Gap — or Little Beach.

“It’s not a landscape feature, even though the landscape is unbelievably stunning,” he said.

“It’s the people, first and foremost.

“With isolation comes really fascinating communities because people have to do more with less so that means you get these shanty singers and all of this interesting stuff percolating up to the top.

“So for me it’s the people. They don’t take themselves too seriously.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails