Friday, March 03, 2006

Visitors Much More Than Economic Development

There’s a great project run by Dr. Don Schilling called Civic Tourism. He very articulately writes that tourism development is about much more than economic development or spending, jobs and tax revenue.

Don notes that tourism, if done around place and done organically, is about preserving the environment, historic preservation, cultural sustainability, community pride, citizenship and much more.

Destination Marketing or Management Organizations (DMOs or convention and visitor bureaus) must be a forum for communication and discussion about these areas.

It's also about avoiding copy-cat marketing and development, or as we often call it, emulation marketing. It's about getting in touch with the organic sense of place in each community and revealing as much as building it. It's about the cultural, natural and built environments.

It’s a tall order. I remember when tourism development wasn’t even given credit for economic development, and now the challenge and the obligation is even greater.

We’ve come a long way since the '70s when the debate was about adding visitors to convention promotion.

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