Power of tourism dollars business-farm tahlequahdailypress.com gsa 2016 catalog

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One way to not only slow, but possibly reverse the outflow of dollars from your community, is to find ways to attract tourism into your community. The value of tourism is immense and ought not be understated. The power of the tourism dollar can literally alter the economic trends and landscape in your community. It can indeed restore the vitalization needed for communities to grow and ultimately compete for survival.

While every community will be slightly different based on cost of living and variable economic conditions, studies indicate that tourism brings approximately $500 per visit into a community over the average two-day stay. That figure includes hotel, gas, shopping and food. Utilizing those figures, if your community finds ways to attract 10,000 additional tourists throughout the year, that is an additional $5 million circulating through your community each year. It gets better: Studies also show those dollars will then get spent again at least three to five times by those in the local community. That equates to an additional $15 million circulating through your community each year. What will that additional $15 million do for your local businesses?

Needless to say, tourism is a high-stakes game that every community would be negligent to not pursue. Community leaders would be shirking their fiduciary duties of office by not actively pursuing those dollars. That being the case, how does a community build the machine that promotes and attracts tourism? While there are many ways to grow this avenue of revenue, here is a simple three-step process that works.

First, realize, understand and promote the value and vision of tourism. Understand that regardless of where you are in the scheme of things, you must get to a point that you are doing things to grow tourism. This is the most important frame of mind community leaders can have when it comes to your community‘s financial survival.

Second, find those unique things about your city and build upon them. Tourists are seeking new and unique experiences. They are seeking to find the heart and soul of a community, not the sameness and easy-to-find-anywhere experiences so many provide. 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 at least one niche and magnify that niche to the best of your ability.

Third, support organizations that are willing to create events that magnify your community‘s niches and talents. People will travel for good events. Your events can be car or bike shows, food festivals, unique music festivals, veterans events, ethnic festivals, and the list goes on.

The real skill in this arena, however, is beyond just creating these events. Every event you concentrate community resources on should be one that can ultimately grow to a multi-day event. Those are the events that attract the high-stakes tourism dollars that really make the impact your community needs.

There is one additional element that can’t be overlooked as you begin to capitalize on these great events: That is your downtown appearance and ambiance. Tourists look for uniqueness while visiting your town; they look for experiences that are unduplicated in other locations. As you build your event agenda in the coming years, don’t do so at the expense of neglecting the heart and soul of your downtown community.