Ten Factors for a Successful Tourism Program

1. A Complete Tourism Package. Successful rural tourism communities have created the right mix of businesses for tourism, including adequate lodging, restaurants, shops where tourists can spend money locally, and a group of attractions that draw tourism. The development of a complete tourism package will not only attract tourists, but will encourage visitors to stay, spend money, and most importantly come back.

2. Strategic Planning. In rural areas where resources are limited, strategic planning is fundamental for the efficient and effective use of resources and funds.

Planning for tourism development and promotion can help develop and support local businesses connected to tourism and facilitate coordination among the key development partners in the community.

Strategic planning for tourism development cannot be independent from other community development initiatives. Most business and public sectors of the community are integrated with the tourism industry; therefore, it is critical to strive for community development goals within the framework of the tourism strategic plan.

3. Leadership. Successful tourism promotion and development involves good leadership. The level of involvement by local leaders can make a difference in the ability of communities to respond to development initiatives. Strong leadership skills contribute to the capacity of the community to address development initiatives. There needs to be coordinated leadership and action between tourism entrepreneurs, local government officials, and persons in nonprofit organizations (e.g., convention and visitors bureaus) who work with tourism. Among the key local leaders that need to be involved in tourism are local government officials, community groups, the business community, and nonprofit organizations such as Chambers of Commerce and Convention and Visitor's Bureaus.

4. Support and Participation of Local Government. It is important to have local government support for tourism development. Local government can provide assistance with:

a. Funding for tourism development and promotion;
b. The creation and maintenance of infrastructure necessary for tourism (e.g., roads airports, railways, boat launches, reliable water and power services);
c. Zoning and beautification programs; and
d. Training and educational programs for tourism business, employees in
business-related firms and other persons working in tourist industries.

5. Coordination and Cooperation among Rural Tourism Entrepreneurs. Cooperation among business persons is key for successful tourism industry, it is important that firms, who traditionally have not worked together, learn to cooperate and coordinate efforts to better serve their tourism markets.

6. Coordination and Cooperation between Business Persons and Local Leadership. For tourism development and planning to work, coordination and cooperation between local government and businesses is critical. Rural communities have developed strong personnel networks, yet, coordination and cooperation between local government and the business community do not always occur easily. Public sector activities to promote tourism will not work without cooperation and input from local firms. Similarly, local government development efforts will not thrive without private sector involvement.

7. Active Convention and Visitor's Bureaus. Rural communities depend on the participation of Convention and Visitor's Bureaus. Their assistance is especially important for individual tourism entrepreneurs who cannot afford outside expertise and cannot obtain this help from financially overextended local governments. Furthermore, Convention and Visitor's Bureaus can act as a link between local government and entrepreneurs by facilitating cooperation and coordination between the two group.

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