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Planning for Heritage Tourism

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... Communities planning for heritage tourism to enhance economic development need to focus on several important elements: (1) the local resident; (2) the visitor; (3) the place; and (4) principles of tourism development. Effective tourism development plans and strategies require much more than just another advertising campaign. They require a thorough understanding of the visitor, and a clear recognition that "locals" are very important.

The Local Resident. The local resident is perhaps the most often ignored element of tourism. While residing in the community, the local also visits those areas that are of interest to the visitor. In this sense, the local is a visitor. Most importantly, the local contributes to the authenticity and ambiance of the place which is what most visitors seek. Successful planning and management of tourism provides first for the local resident, and then for the visitor. A perfect example is Baltimore's Inner Harbor. It was planned for the people of Baltimore and now draws more than nine million visitors annually. A great environment for residents will be a great environment for visitors!

Balancing tourism with resident needs and maintenance of a quality environment is a major concern. Sound planning should produce a plan designed to manage the number and quality of visitors while giving them a quality experience and value for their dollar. The worst possible thing that can happen to a city or a part of a city is to become totally dominated by visitors. ...

Most travelers on vacation or visitors at leisure do not want to go to places occupied only by people like themselves. They want to go where the locals go, eat where the locals eat, and be entertained by the attractions that are a part of the character and culture of the city. Likewise, local residents are unlikely to patronize places aimed solely at outsiders. ...

The objective of planning for heritage tourism should be to create a great place for visitors, minimize adverse environmental impacts and maximize economic benefits to the community. The work program should not focus on planning for a specific attraction, event or place, but rather seek to develop an overall community strategy for tourism. ...

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