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There is no rule more easily generalized from the existing research on the social and cultural consequences of tourism than the observation that local involvement and control contributes to successful tourism development.
Erve Chambers

Our Programs: Heritage Tourism


YOUR CHOICE

A tourism program that begins and ends with the community ingredients residents value,

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or a hospitality campaign directed by outside corporate forces, whose main concern is maximizing their profits.

Civic Tourism: A Public Approach

  • While CHG promotes heritage tourism, we recognize that tourism is one of the least civically engaged industries in America, partly because itís such a transient business. This lack of community connection is unfortunate because tourism is the principal employer in many areas, with tremendous potential to impact a place Ė economically and in other meaningful ways. Not listening to the public can lead to inappropriate, controversial products, often contributing to an "us-and-them" attitude between residents and visitors.

  • When a town creates a heritage tourism initiative, itís telling the story of people who have lived, and do live, there. Hence, itís essential the program involve residents in collecting, interpreting, and telling the story. Unlike other forms of tourism, which often exclude the public, heritage tourism invites people into the process, and in that way it can foster public participation and instill pride in oneís community.

  • Appropriate tourism respects the community, its residents, and their history. It provides adequate jobs for the people who live there, and most of the money generated through tourism benefits the town, not multinational corporations.

  • Involving the public can keep your town from being engulfed by tourism. In planning for visitors, the first priority is still the people who live there, not visitors or global companies. Thatís why itís important that residents set the agenda. Can you buy more than T-shirts, souvenirs, and cappuccinos on Main Street, for example? A civic approach sees tourism as part of the solution to place-making, rather than an outside force that buries a region's sense of place. Most importantly for the hospitality industry, engaging citizens can lead to public and political support for tourism, because advocates can demonstrate how tourism actually helps communities preserve a region's quality of life.

  • For more about Civic Tourism, see www.civictourism.org.
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