Tourism – The community is the product: Part II

In communities where tourism is one of the primary industries, businesses should be prepared to answer questions about local tourist destinations.

Part I of this article shared the type of questions local leaders need to ask when they look at their community as the product rather than the items offered by individual business. To continue this theme, how many times have you or one of your employees been asked, “What is there to do in this town?” The most frustrating response to this question is when someone responds that there is nothing to do. Keep in mind something attracted the visitor to the community. Try and determine what it is they are interested in doing. Even though we are talking about the community as the product, remember that the visitor isn’t restricted by municipal boundaries. They often consider things to do as far as an hour away as within the community. Be prepared to offer suggestions within the region, not just within the town you live or work in.

Shopping, hiking, fishing, swimming and history are all popular tourist activities. Visitors are interested in shops where they can purchase something that is authentic to the area they are visiting and is made locally. Some people just want to know where they can walk along the beach and put their feet in one of the Great Lakes or take a walk in the woods. The one room historical museum that you may have never been to is interesting to visitors to the community. Is there an ice cream shop or restaurant that has a signature dish based on the area that a visitor just shouldn’t miss?

You don’t need to memorize the details, hours and fees for every attraction but know where the visitor can find this information. Check with the local chamber or tourist association to see if they can provide your business with a directory of information, a visitor guide or other materials that your staff can access in helping visitors.

Additional information on tourism resources is available through the Michigan State University Extension tourism webpage.

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