I spent the better part of an hour on the phone with a tourism colleague describing my town. I may have learned more than he did.
When we talked about the local tourism assets, I found myself starting with our old standbys: the natural resource assets from nearby areas, things like the state parks, sand dunes, caverns and lake. These are the things I remember visiting when I was growing up. It goes back further than that. When I was an antiques dealer, I came across some really old tourism brochures for our town. Guess what they talked about? That’s right; these same things I just listed.
Then I realized our town has really changed in the past 10 years.
We have a thriving arts and culture scene, but I’m not sure we’re doing much with that for tourism. We have impressive new sports fields and facilities that draw lots of families for tournaments, but I don’t think we have any program to let them know what else there is to do in town. It’s a very different tourism picture that that out-of-date version.
Then we talked about some more up-to-date ways to do regional cooperation, besides just listing off the neighboring towns’ natural resources.
I really do think I learned more than him because it was such a good chance to think about how things have changed. I’m not a key player here, just a regular chamber member, so I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our tourism trends locally.
That’s your homework, too: spend some time explaining your town to someone. It can be a peer in your industry, someone new to town, or someone from across the world. Notice what comes up first and what you think of when you dig deep.
Keep shaping the future of your town,
PS – I’m offline for a couple of weeks, so I may be a bit slow in replying. I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m back online.