Rural Tourism Partnerships & Sustainable Economic Development Sharon A. Liggett
FOUR MODELS Their Story, Their Approaches • The Original Florida Marketing Task Force • Regional Planning Council Study • Interlocal Agreement-Governmental • Marketing Prior to Product Development • The Big Bend Scenic Byway • Extension of DOT Program • Product Development Prior to Marketing • RiverWay South Apalachicola-Choctawhatchee • Tri-State River • Informal Stakeholders Group Transitioning into a Non-Profit • Inventory Existing Product then Market • Alabama Mountain Lakes • Longevity ,Membership, Rebranding
THE ORIGINAL FLORIDA TOURISM TASK FORCE Their goal is to market the region as one product to increase visibility and increase visitor offerings. The mission of the task force is to enhance tourism yet preserve the historical, cultural and natural assets of North Central Florida. • Founded 1993 as a result of a1992 feasibility study conducted by the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council. • In 1998, collaboration brought 11 counties joined together through interlocal agreement.
WHERE? Natural North Florida
ANNUAL MARKETING PLAN Tools Tools Tourism Education Speaker’s Bureau Industry Conference Participation Interactive Website Facebook Blogging Links Banner Ads • Advertising • Co-op Print Programs • Public Relations • Press Trips/Media Missions* • FAM (familiarization) Tours* • Marketing • Sales Missions • Trade Shows • New Product Development*
NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPEMENT Definition and Examples Product development is the integration of similarly themed amenities in each county resulting in a visitor experience such as a tour/trip, guide or map. Subject Matter: Focus on Culture, Heritage, Nature-based amenities Sustainability: Promote visitation while preserving local culture Past: Geocaching 1, Springs, Romantic, North Florida Black Heritage Trail, Agri-tourism, Suwannee River Trail Guide, Big Bend Scenic Byway, North Florida Art Trail, One Tank Trips Future: Equestrian, Geocaching 2, Spanish Heritage, Civil War Anniversary (2011), Bed & Breakfast Trail, One Tank Trips, Locally Grown
FAM TOURS Experience Natural North Florida Typically a group of 5-8 travel writers that participate in a specialized guided tour of the region featuring targeted amenities and attractions which are represented by a marketing theme: • Geo Cache Ultimate Challenge—2007 • Romantic North Florida--2008 • Springs of North Florida--2009 • Paddle North Florida—Fall 2009 • Equestrian--Spring 2010stories.
MEDIA MISSIONS On the Road Florida Living • Atlanta/Birmingham • Southern Living, Coastal Living, Cooking Light, Sweet Tea Journal, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Chattanooga Times • Tampa Bay • Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times • Orlando/Central Florida • Orlando Sentinel, Villages Newspaper, Florida Monthly Magazine
BIG BEND SCENIC BYWAY It Does Not Happen Overnight! The Florida Scenic Highway designation of the Big Bend Scenic Byway is a nine-year public participation process, beginning in 2001, that involved hundreds of hours of public meetings, working groups, field trips, workshops, and presentations.
BIG BEND SCENIC BYWAY Explore Undiscovered North Florida! The Big Bend Scenic Byway will Transport You to a Different Time and Place through its Wildlife, Waterways, Woods and Way of Life. The Big Bend Scenic Byway was designated as a National Scenic Byway by the Federal Highway Administration in 2009.
BIG BEND SCENIC BYWAY Best Mix of Stakeholders Elected Officials US Forest Service State Forests National Wildlife Refuge Small Business Owners Visit Florida Tourist Development Councils Greenways & Trails Festival Organizers Department of Transportation Cultural Institutions Museums, Theatres, Community College Banks Outfitters Green Guides State Parks Chambers of Commerce Economic Development Councils Regional Planning Organizations
RIVERWAY SOUTH Purpose The purpose of RiverWay The purpose of RiverWay South is to preserve, protect and promote the unique heritage of communities within the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint (ACF) Water Wars
RIVERWAY SOUTH Mission • We accomplish our mission through development of a master plan (for economic development along the river throughout the ACF watershed) to track and measure economic impact results for the entire region, to serve as a coach for new product initiatives and to market ecologically sensitive and sustainable tourism throughout the entire region.
RIVERWAY South Four Objectives • Establish RiverWay South Institute with at least 4 participating universities. • Design at least 3 new tourism attractors on the river from the following: river cruises, canoe trips, kayak tours and rafting. • Act as a catalyst in strengthening relationships among the watershed counties by recruiting at least 2 members from each county to serve as and Interagency Task Force to coordinate activities throughout all the counties. • Establish a resource list of available funding options within the watershed.
MEMBERSHIP MODEL The Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association The Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association was formed in 1964 for the express purpose of developing North Alabama’s travel industry and marketing the region to the traveling public. Originally, there were only eight counties and very few members. Today, AMLA serves sixteen counties with an ever-expanding membership base representing progressive travel-regulated businesses and associations as well as various levels of government.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Tourism is Economic Development! Visitors will support local small businesses and generate not only bed tax revenue but sales and sales tax revenue and green jobs through shopping at the convenience store, buying gas, eating out, renting recreation equipment, buying t-shirts, concert tickets, antique shopping and more.
LOCAL SUPPORT Who benefits? • Both public and private sectors benefit from increased visitation. • State Parks, National Forests • Museums, Historical Societies, Theatre • Greenways & Trails • Farms, Locally Grown – Agritourism • Wildlife Refuges • Green Jobs
LESSONS LEARNED Sometimes the Hard Way! • Visitors do not recognize city limits, county or state lines. • Regionalism is the cornerstone of rural tourism development. • The return on investment (ROI) and the economic development is more than bed tax revenue generation. • Sustainable tourism occurs when stakeholders preserve, protect and promote the local area with a low impact on the local culture. • Regional tourism organizations do not duplicate local efforts. They leverage the resources of the regional partners to add capacity and value to existing tourism marketing programs.
MORE LESSONS LEARNED Tell Your Story to Your Stakeholders! • Over and Over and Over and Over Again! • Utilize every and all available data sources to backup your story to stakeholders • Visit Florida, Visitor Numbers from Local Attractions, Parks, Forests and more • Always utilize tracking mechanisms for advertising, promotions, websites, etc. • Utilize Local Colleges and Universities for Research Services • Track all Media Exposure Including the Web—it can be time consuming but you will wow your stakeholders with advertising equivalency rates.
GENERAL GOALS For Rural Marketing Organizations* • By promoting and facilitating travel to and within the region. • By concentrating and applying our efforts on the facilities and services of the entire region. • By increasing the awareness of tourism and its economic impact on the region. • By promoting integrity, good faith, and equitable principles within our industry. • By developing and implementing marketing programs for the region. • By providing representation at all levels of government. • By encouraging the further development of the cultural, natural and historic attractions in the region. • By providing cooperative efforts and support to local tourism development programs. • By establishing a collective forum to protect and enhance business interests. • By strengthening the travel industry in the region through a series of educational our efforts • * Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (North Alabama Lakes)
Thank You! Sharon A. Liggett Shaliggett@Comcast.net