Putting the 'I' Back in Community Pt. 1

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After years of working in the tourism and travel industry in five countries (USA, England, Kenya, South Africa and Mexico), we have seen that the benefits of this industry far outweigh any of the negative aspects, and that the negative aspects can be fixed or even avoided all together, if a smart strategy or plan is formulated, put in place, and then attended to with care. The plan should be Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

We’ve added a new Travel & Hospitality Department to our Parks & Travel Magazine and to kick it off, we’ve titled this new series of articles, Putting the “I” Back In Community, because success in tourism requires the input,  involvement and buy-in of  people interested in the overall health and economy of their community.  As ambassadors for the
8 Keys of Excellence
, a character education building program co-founded and spearheaded by Bobbi DePorter, we realized excellence in tourism could be achieved by integrating the same 8 Keys of Excellence into a tourism strategy. It makes sense since those who wish to travel usually do so to be educated, entertained and inspired.



8 KEYS OF EXCELLENCE IN TOURISM

INTEGRITY – Provide a “Sense of Place”
Define your community identity and showcase its positive values.

FAILURE LEADS TO SUCCESS – Make lemonade
View negative community attributes as opportunities to enhance, improve and enrich.

SPEAK WITH GOOD PURPOSE – Be positive
Keep your community story and all communications positive.

THIS IS IT! Attention to detail
Stay focused and tuned into your community and visitor needs.

COMMITMENT – Make your community vision happen
Take consistent positive action to maintain your community identity and to fulfill its vision.

OWNERSHIP – Be part of the solution
Take “ownership” of your community with positive and responsible actions.

FLEXIBILITY – Be willing to do things differently
Recognize what’s not working and be willing to change your plan of action to achieve your community goals and vision.

BALANCE – Build a sustainable and responsible community
Consider everything that’s meaningful and important to your community, and steadily grow with that vision.

“One of our Quantum Learning directives is Everything Speaks, everything sends a message either positive or negative, there is no neutral. Each of us sends a message to our community, either positive or negative. If we want excellence in our community, it begins with each individual taking responsibility for their impact and influence. Together we can create excellence in our lives and our community.
Bobbi DePorter – President of Quantum Learning Network and Co-founder of SuperCamp


Why Should A Community Want Tourism?
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “The travel and tourism industry generated over $1.5 trillion in economic output in 2016, supporting 7.6 million U.S. jobs. Travel and tourism exports accounted for 11 percent of all U.S. exports and a third (33 percent) of all U.S. services exports, positioning travel and tourism as the nation’s largest services export.


One out of every 18 Americans is employed, either directly or indirectly, in a travel or tourism-related industry. In 2016, U.S. travel and tourism output represented 2.7 percent of gross domestic product.

While the majority of activity in the industry is domestic, expenditures by international visitors in the United States totaled $244.7 billion in 2016, yielding an $83.9 billion trade surplus for the year. According to U.S. Department of Commerce projections, international travel to the United States should grow by 3 percent annually through 2021. The United States leads the world in international travel, and tourism exports and ranks second in terms of total visitation.’

The tourism dollar can quickly boost a local economy because it is a labor intensive industry with most of the participating businesses being small and locally run. As the locally spent tourism dollar changes hands throughout a community, it eventually benefits all businesses and residents.

“Responsible tourism is a process of short and long term strategic planning producing economical and social benefits to a defined region.  Economical benefits include creating new jobs and businesses, sustaining long term employment, improving infrastructure and maintenance of the natural environment by protecting, creating or maintaining National Parks or other protected areas.  It’s the community’s job to get it right from the beginning.  It’s the tourist’s job to enjoy themselves responsibly.”
Travel writer Linda Kissam, President of International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

Birding in Tourism

The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest in the USA and directly provides around 5.5 million jobs annually. Compared to extractive industries like mining, or large corporations where a company can close down leaving many unemployed, tourism and hospitality jobs are diverse, spreading across various types of businesses, providing a built-in safety net for the local community economy.

 

These jobs stay in the community too, and are not outsourced to other countries. The number of jobs will increase comparable to how successful the community is in growing and maintaining a balanced tourism industry.

Responsible, sustainable tourism relies on a balanced plan that protects the local environment, as well as the social community values. The strategy implemented should be based on a plan where the community aspirations are considered; an assessment of the assets and experiences available has been done; and the strength of the infrastructure and local services has been determined.

Input and involvement of residents, local agencies and those in the tourism industry is vital when forming a strategy, and a way to evaluate results is key to meeting market expectations so that the destination grows responsibly and is sustainable. Visitors will not only want to return, but will become ambassadors for the destination and help spread positive publicity.

Asking the following questions will help keep the community involved and moving forward towards a common goal:

 

● What does our town/city and surrounding local region have to offer visitors?
● Who is already attracted to our destination and what do they do once they are here?
● What are we offering as a destination right now, and where do we want to be five years from now?
● What do we have in place to reach that five year goal and what do we need to add or change?
● Who will be responsible for managing the plan/strategy and how will we know if we are succeeding?

“Successful management of sustainable tourism requires a complex balancing exercise. This will require the involvement of a wide range of authorities, residents and commercial interests.”
Peter B. Myles, International Tourism Consultant, Eco-Tourism Award Winner

Shopping in Tourism


A Tourism Plan should look at:

 

● Balancing the development of tourism throughout the region.
● Optimizing the contribution of income and job growth to the community.
● Forward planning so tourism is sustainable by conserving and protecting the natural and cultural heritage.
● Preserving the character of the community.
● Allowing the benefits of tourism to reach all sectors of the community.
● Minimizing any social disadvantages that may occur.

Supply and demand plays an importance in tourism as does targeting the market segments most likely to appreciate your destination. A unique image is vital to a destination. What makes you different? Maximizing and marketing a unique image needs to be backed up with excellent customer service, adequate amenities, accessibility to reliable transportation services, and a community that understands the benefit of tourism so that when the locals and visitors interact, it is a good experience for all.

Today, the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles. Tourism has become one of the major players in international commerce, and represents at the same time one of the main income sources for many developing countries.”World Tourism Organization


The 4 Pillars of Tourism can be summed up as:

 

● Assets (What you have that makes you different)
● Amenities (What services are available)
● Awareness (Educating both your community and the prospective visitors through good marketing and consistent training for those who interact with customers)
● Action (constantly optimizing and working your Tourism Plan to help understand and deliver your visitor’s needs and expectations)

‘It is easier to feel than to realize, or in any way explain, Yosemite grandeur. The magnitudes of the rocks and trees and streams are so delicately harmonized, they are mostly hidden.’
John Muir

Benefits of Tourism
Visitor Spending in National Parks


About the Author:

Nancy J. Reid and Lisa D. Smith

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