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Why Should Tourists Love Your Town?

Posted: February 28, 2017

"Where can one go to eat, play or learn about the history of your town?” is a question that a community might be asked by tourists and other visitors.
Youngsville Borough

Youngsville Borough

When tourists come to your town, replies to this question can make or break their impression of your community. If you want visitors to come back again — and say nice things about your town to others who might come too — you need to have some good answers.  

That means your reply should include an offering of things to see and do that are either unique (one of a kind) or exceptional (other towns might have them, but yours is better). Communities should aim to give their visitors an authentic, high quality experience that will be remembered for a long time.

Communities need to inventory those existing and potential attractions that will bring tourists, including places of natural and scenic beauty like lakes, forests, prairies, and rivers, as well as outdoor recreational activities that can be pursued in these areas.

As you look at your community, you really need to put yourself in the shoes of the visitors. Questions you should be thinking about include: “Why would they want to come to your community? What would be appealing or interesting enough to get them to travel your way? And what would make them stay awhile longer?"

As you think about these questions and the assets that your community has, don’t forget that the people who live in your town can help. Involving them in conducting an inventory can increase the level of support that tourism development gets from the community.  It also helps in preparing residents and local business employees to be better at first contact service when they are questioned by visitors.

As you think about these questions and the assets that your community has, don’t forget that the people who live in your town can help. Involving them in conducting an inventory can increase the level of support that tourism development gets from the community.  It also helps in preparing residents and local business employees to be better at first contact service when they are questioned by visitors.

Everyone in town can help with brainstorming. Reach out to local residents from a variety of incomes, ethnicities and ages to volunteer to help identify attractions. And don't forget to include youth and young adults in tourism planning. They are the future, and they often have the same sense of adventure that tourists do.

Your residents will have local knowledge about things to see and do that might appeal to visitors — even "everyday" things, such as church dinners and the Main Street café where everybody goes for lunch.  

An important component of many communities is their Main Street which consists of retail services important to both visitors and residents alike. The appearance of your Main Street can go a long way to attracting visitors.

Main Street features that contribute to a vibrant community include:

  • Infrastructure including sidewalks and utilities
  • Places to get to know local history and culture
  • Street lighting and traffic signals
  • Accessibility for disabled population
  • Local businesses and retail stores where visitors can shop or be pampered
  • Signage that welcomes people and shares information on services in the community
  • Festivals and events that celebrate local history, culture, harvest time, foods, music, or celebrities
  • Broadband capacity

What can your community do to enhance your Main Street?  Is it visitor ready?

Residents also know all about the local regional economy, which can be a source of experience attractions — such as tours of farms and farmers' markets, manufacturing plants, mines, cheese factories, wineries and more.

And remember — as you develop and promote your attractions, always consider things from the visitor's viewpoint. That way, you will have some good answers when visitors ask, "What do you do around here for fun?"

Some communities are addressing their future vitality and sustainability by strategic planning for their future. Penn State Extension can provide your community resources to address the long-term future and sustainability of your community.  See Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow: Unit IV: Community/Public Policy Leadership Skills, Workbook 4: Active Leadership.

 

 

 

 

Contact Information

Peter Wulfhorst, AICP
  • Extension Educator, Ag Entrepreneurship & Economic & Community Development Extension Team
Email:
Phone: 570-296-3400