Hassle hotspots are missing out on return visitors

Street stalls like this one in Egypt can be a flashpoint for tourist hassle

Street markets like this one in Egypt can be a flashpoint for tourist hassle

By Pippa Jacks,

How badly does being hassled on the beach or in the market impact on your clients’ holiday experience? New Travel Foundation research suggests the extent of the problem is huge

Being hassled by hawkers puts off almost half of visitors to Egypt, Tunisia, Spain and Turkey from returning to those countries, according to new research by the Travel Foundation.

More than half (57%) of respondents to the survey said hassle in these four countries had made their holiday less enjoyable while 47% said they were less likely to return because of it.

The Travel Foundation surveyed more than 500 holidaymakers online, and also analysed 125 TripAdvisor reviews, to ascertain the impact that hassle can have on a tourist destination.

The survey also found that almost four-fifths of holidaymakers will share their negative experience, whether by word-of-mouth, on social media, or on TripAdvisor.

Of those who did write about their poor experience on TripAdvisor, almost a fifth discouraged other people from visiting the same place.

Negative comments on TripAdvisor included: “As soon as we left the train station we were constantly approached by people trying to persuade us to take their accommodation” and “I felt awkward, almost bullied into buying cheap gifts I did not want”.

However, half of respondents to the survey agreed that engaging with local people made a positive contribution to their holiday.

Tourist boards and tour operators attended a Travel Foundation seminar last week at which the results of the survey were unveiled, as well as a new framework to help stakeholders understand and tackle the issue of hassle.

Engage stakeholders

Attendees heard how the Travel Foundation has been working in Sri Lanka and Kenya to give beach operators the training to help them interact more professionally with tourists.

This reduces customer complaints, improves relations between the hotels and the beach operators, and enables the operators to earn a more sustainable living.

“We’ve proven that if you can work with lots of different stakeholders, you can address the issue,” said acting chief executive Salli Felton.

Abta chairman Noel Josephides said: “It’s an issue that tourist boards don’t always understand; if they are from that country themselves they may never have experienced the hassle themselves.”

Thomas Cook’s sustainable destinations manager Jo Hendrick said Gambia had a particularly high number of customer complaints about being hassled. The operator had to stop one particular excursion on which customerswere subjected to extreme hassle. “It is a constant issue in this destination and it takes constant engagement and training,” she said.

Torrance Lewis, district manager for Jamaica Tourist Board, described how the Team Jamaica project, started 10 years ago, trains Jamaicans involved in tourism.

“Any tour guide, vendor in the craft market, or taxi driver has to do 40 hours’ training if they want a licence. It’s changed the way the street stakeholder approaches the visitor,” he explained. The project has drastically reduced instances in which tourists feel hassled.

Databox: Hassle on holiday

  • 62% agree feeling welcomed by local people would encourage them to revisit the same destination “a great deal”
  • 62% have been hassled by local traders while on holiday
  • 79% share bad holiday experiences face-to-face or on social media
  • 75% are put off Egypt, Turkey, Morocco and India because of perceived hassle
  • 18% of TripAdvisor reviewers discourage others from going to a destination where they have experienced hassle

Source: Travel Foundation

Sourced by TTG Digital

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