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Developing new destinations to feed the hungry traveler

On a visit to Germany a few years ago, I found myself in the village of Seitenroda in Eastern Germany. Our destination, in particular, was a 1000 year old castle with sweeping views of a beautiful countryside. Far from any place on the German itinerary, the nearest town to the castle is Kahla (tell me if you’ve heard of it!)

Schloss Leuchtenburg now serves as a Museum, and a destination par excellence. The Museum delivers an extremely engaging experience through Porzellanwelten (Porcelain World), the theme borrowed from Kahla’s 150+ years’ old porcelain manufacturing tradition.

As a destination development professional, I loved observing how a sleepy little town had come alive and found its way on tourist maps, even if those of domestic tourists for now. What was even more commendable was that the authorities chose to build the destination using the region’s history and inherent qualities, a porcelain manufacturing tradition in this case, rather than resorting to just another crowd-puller lacking context. What particularly blew my mind at the museum was the high quality of interpretation that made sure one understands porcelain by the time one walks out of the exit doors. Complementing the display, there are several interactive and supremely engaging experiences — writing your wishes on porcelain plates in invisible ink (made visible in special light at the ‘scriptorium’) and dropping them to the ground off a 20 meter glass-floor skywalk. When the sound of crashing plates meets your fear of heights, I can tell you it is giddying! Such experiences with several others, especially those capitalising the castle’s vantage point and brilliant views, ensures a substantial length of stay (~ 4 hours) for an attraction this size. That’s a destination & product development win!

What brought this destination back to mind today is the pressing need to mitigate overtourism, that needs to be resolved through strategic destination development. Developing new sub-destinations, strategically spreading them out, and taking pressure off destinations struggling with pre-pandemic overtourism is extremely critical now. I take solace in the example of Florence’s Uffizi Diffusi, in which the museum’s collection will be scattered across smaller venues in Tuscany. Not only will this help alleviate Florence’s overtourism problem, but also provide that impetus to visitors towards tourism-starved towns and villages of Italy. Similarly, Schloss Leuchtenburg serves as the perfect example of destination development to spur visitor traffic to lesser known places.

A win-win? Indeed.

(All photos are the property of Minu Chawla)


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