Written by on in Community Outreach , Heritage Tourism , Tourism .

Visitor Experiences and Local Communities
Visitor Experiences and Local Communities

Envision an amazing adventure. Traveling to a new place. Meeting a local who takes you in and shares their city and culture with you. Eating at the local restaurants. Visiting the local churches and cemeteries. Being introduced to other locals who are writers, artists, professionals, advocates. Making friendships that last, connections that stay ingrained in your memory and leaving you with stories that you will share with anyone at the smallest invitation (and eventually your grandkids 7 million times). These are the authentic experiences so many people want to have. The stuff travel shows are made of.

And yet, for a time, master plans were created for these cities and cultures- these are the pieces bypassed to create the large highway, the skyscraper hotels, the cruise ship ports. At some point the locals stopped planning for visitors to come in and feel like locals. They started planning for the experiences that other locations offer, for fitting in more people, for allowing tourism to be “safe and easy”.

And yet, travelers still yearn for those authentic experiences. And overtourism is becoming a real concern in many places. So much so that Skift has identified “Cities Navigate the Clash of Visitor and Local Economies” as a MegaTrend for 2018. You can download the entire Skift MegaTrends 2018 Report here.

“Today, the public and private sectors promoting tourism and economic development are collaborating more intentionally, in both the leisure and meetings segments, to benefit a wider breadth of area residents and drive local industry growth.

Beginning with the leisure travel industry, every city is attempting to diversify visitor spending and push incoming travelers beyond the most frequented tourism areas. This is designed to alleviate congestion and spread tourism dollars more evenly into underserved regions. At the extreme end, cities likeBarcelona,Venice, andReykjavikare suffering acute overtourism that threatens to destroy the cultural fabric of their neighborhoods.

To increase visitor dispersal, cities and countries are promoting local culinary and cultural tourism in partnership with regional organizations, spurred by the demand for more authentic travel experiences. For these initiatives to deliver a positive return on investment, it’s critical for tourism organizations to work effectively with their local government and economic development agencies to secure the necessary public funds and business community buy-in.”

Next Exit History is hoping to become part of the bridge closing the gap between Visitor and Local Economies. We believe that every community has a story that should be shared. That community and culture traits should be preserved and celebrated. As individuals, we yearn for connection. Connection to new places and new people but also to shared beliefs and histories. And all of these things should be accessible by all. How do you want to see entities helping to close this gap? For providing experiences to be available and still authentic?