The idea is to think of tourism as economic development. This is a subject that is right up my alley. I am a big believer that tourism is much bigger than tourism itself and is a foundation for community and place building as part of a bigger economic development vision and plan.
Essentially, how I see this topic is as follows: In a post industrial economy “Quality of Place” is a major economic driver. People want live and work in nice places. The nicer the place the more desirable it is and as a place where economic development can thrive.
Tourism plays an important role in maintaining and adding value to communities. Typically a community that has a vibrant tourism industry has a healthy and vibrant quality of place. Quality of place can be defined many ways but typically it means, nice downtowns with cafe’s, nice shops and restaurants, access to trails and other outdoor amenities such as; waterfront, woods, parks. Amenities, such as libraries, community centres, etc … also contribute to quality of place. My colleague and I were speaking about wineries, craft breweries, distilleries, located in towns and in rural areas. All of this adds to quality of place.
In the competition for talent or workers, those communities that have the highest quality of place will retain talent ( a key factor in economic development) and attract talent ( a key in driving growth and investment). Even industry and traditional manufacturers are seeking out communities that have great “Quality of Place” as they too need to retain and attract talent to work at their facilities.
The direct benefits of tourism are many and mostly obvious. Tourism is an “export industry” which means that outside or new money comes into a community. This creates wealth and has a ripple and multiplier effect on the local economy.
The other thing that tourism often does when done well is to help brand a community and supports or enhances its identity. This is extremely important in today’s noisy environment of information overload.
Tourism also offers leverage-able marketing opportunities. Tourism offers up numerous public relations opportunities to bring low cost, high volume and high reach exposure. In other words tourism presents opportunities for communities to gain exposure, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally and in some instances gain hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of essentially free advertising. Here is a free report that shows my formula build a successful destination.
All of the above ads up to tourism being a highly impactful strategy to build a community and an economy, beyond tourism directly. From my perspective tourism should be a fully integrated part of any economic development plan or strategy. It should not be in a silo and should not be considered in isolation as a stand alone sector. It is part of the bigger picture.
How does your community view tourism? As a stand alone sector or part of an intergrated approach. Can you see the positive effects of tourism on your community’s quality of place? Please comment, I’d enjoy hearing about your thoughts and experiences.
I work with companies throughout their life cycle – from start ups, to expansions to exit strategies and the sale of the company. My clients are from the private sector and public sector including economic development and tourism based organizations.
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