Creating quality of life creates tourism

I recently came across something called the “Destination Management Cycle” created by Maura Gast. He says: “If you build a place where people want to live, you will build a place where people want to work. If you build a place where people want to work, you will build a place where business should be. If you build a place where business should be, you will build a place people should visit.If you build a place people want to go, you build a place people want to live.

Local businesses struggle to survive on residential expenses alone. Visitors make the difference between operating in the red or the black for many local businesses. For many communities, there are few options to reverse the debilitating trend of local dollars leaving their community. This therefore raises the question: how can communities slow down these trends that will only intensify in the future?

A sure way to slow the outflow of dollars leaving your community is to find ways to attract tourism. The value of tourism should not be underestimated. The power of tourism dollars can change the economic landscape of your community. It can restore the revitalization necessary for communities to grow and ultimately compete for survival.

Each community is different based on cost of living and varying economic conditions. Studies indicate that tourism brings about $500 per visit to a community during an average two-day stay. This figure includes hotel, gasoline, shopping and food. If your community attracts 10,000 more tourists every year, that’s another five million dollars flowing through your community. It’s getting better, studies also show that those dollars are re-spent, between three and seven times by those who live within the local community. That’s over fifteen million additional dollars flowing through your community each year. What will another fifteen million dollars do for your local business base, city coffers, and maintaining your community’s infrastructure?

Tourism is a high-stakes game that every community must pursue. Community leaders are shirking their fiduciary duties by not actively seeking these dollars. How does a community build the machine that promotes and attracts tourism? While there are many ways to grow this revenue stream, here’s a simple three-step process.

First, realize, understand and promote the value and vision of tourism. Understand, no matter where you are in the scheme of things, you have to get to a point where you are doing things to develop tourism. This is the most important mindset community leaders can have when it comes to the financial survival of your community.

Second, find those unique things about your city and build them. Tourists are looking for new and unique experiences, not sameness. Tourists are looking to find the heart and soul of a community, not the same old, easy-to-find everyday experiences. Does your community have access to water, such as rivers or lakes? Does your community have a niche such as music, history and/or art etc. ? Find those niches and expand them to the best of your ability.

Third, support organizations willing to create events that magnify your community’s niches and talents. People travel for good events. Your events could be car or bike shows, food festivals, unique music festivals, veteran events, ethnic festivals, and the list is endless. True skill in this area, however, goes beyond simply creating these events. Each event you focus community resources on should be one that can ultimately become a multi-day event. It’s the events that attract high-stakes tourism dollars that have the impact your community needs.

Help your city build business loyalty by keeping tourism and downtown/main street/chamber partners engaged, highlighting what they do for your community. Business development assistance. Make sure your website and blog content tells a compelling story about your destination, downtown or neighborhood. This will help attract both local entrepreneurship and potential outside businesses to your area. Be the “one stop shop” for all information about your destination, with a clear path on your website that leads people to other relevant sites if they want to relocate or start/move a business.

I started with a quote, let me end with one. Bill Geist has often said when referring to tourism: “We have to understand that the work we do is indeed economic development – that’s a key principle and it helps to keep money in hand, because when travelers arrive, they don’t come with the promise of spending – they are spending right now.”

John A. Newby, of Pineville, Mo., is the author of “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” a weekly column appearing in communities across the country. He is CEO of Truly-Local, LLC and is dedicated to helping communities build excitement, energy and combine synergies with their local media to become more vibrant and competitive. His email is: [email protected]

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