Take “Ownership” of Your Community


This is an article in the Putting the I Back in Community tourism article series.   

Take “ownership” of your community with positive and responsible actions.


To realize the benefits of responsible tourism, i.e. jobs and money, a community has to come together and solve any problems that may stand in the way of visitors coming into a town or city. The quickest way to do that is for citizens to step up. Waiting for government entities is not nearly as quick or as effective as private citizens working together for the betterment of where they have chosen to live, work and play.

When citizens take ownership of the various problems and issues their communities may face, getting active rather than angry, is where real progress can be made. Accepting responsibility for the community you live in begins with getting involved. When it comes to the tourism industry, a good place to start is by asking, “What can we, as a destination do, to make sure visitors enjoy our community? ”

Knowing what your community has to offer is crucial. It means looking at your community from all angles. What are the attractions, amenities, the history and the infrastructure strengths and weaknesses? Gather accurate information from several sources and viewpoints to ensure any decisions made, will be for the benefit of all, not just a few. Change is often met with opposition where there is lack of communication, accurate facts, and/or inclusiveness.

Neighborhood associations and non-profit organizations are great places to gather information on what is being, and what can be done, to better a destination. Working with others opens doors to all sorts of opinions and aspects of any problems and their possible solutions. Being involved leads to having a say in how a town or city handles the influx of guests and what those guest expect to experience.

Events are often a draw to a town or city, and being involved in the planning and executing of festivals, street fairs and other events, is a smart way to meet and talk with visitors to see how they feel about your city or town. What do they like? Why do they visit? What possible changes would they like to see made? This kind of feedback is invaluable and can often lead a destination to new ideas on how to better promote themselves.

Involving youth ensures the longevity of communities. Communities will always need young, talented, active participants and the tourism industry sets a mixture of businesses and careers in front of them. Their involvement will bring new ideas to projects and at the same time, shows them what citizenship is all about.

Taking ownership by participating in the direction a town or city takes, especially in regards to tourism, usually means belonging to organizations, attending meetings, being active with others (including social media), and reaching out to invite others TO join in the efforts.

While identifying and finding solutions for town or city short-comings, it is important to stay positive about your community. Speak positively about your community and take opportunities to politely correct any misinformation you may hear or read.  Volunteering to help where you can be of assistance in solving problems within your own area of expertise, is always welcomed.

Small businesses are the cornerstone of any community and supporting them is critical to the success of any town or city. Be an ambassador for your town by shopping and dining local, attending events and encouraging guests to visit.

As with all efforts, they take time and there can be set-backs. From funding issues to difference of opinions to dealing with government issues, things can and will take time. Sometimes you may need to re-visit proposed and/or implemented strategies and find new and creative ways to do things.

This is the seventh article in the “Putting the “I” Back in Community” tourism article series. For the first six articles and other informative articles and interviews on positive communication, see:
Article 1: Building Excellence in Tourism
Article 2: Building a Destination with a Sense of Place
Article 3: Failure Leads to Success in Tourism: It’s a Detour

Article 4: Speak With Good Purpose: Be Positive
Article 5: Tourism Excellence: This Is It– Stay Focused
Article 6: Commitment: Make Your Vision Happen
Gossip is Toxic by Sarah Elliston
Are You a Difficult Leader, by Sarah Elliston

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