There is an article in today’s Travel Daily News about the impact of all-inclusive resorts on the rural communities that host them
As I traveled through small towns throughout the West and Midwest this spring, I talked to numerous residents looking for a way to save their rural communities.
“We have so much to offer visitors,” I heard over and over again.
But the answer to attracting those visitors too often involved some kind of “savior from afar” who would come in and build something wonderful that would get those visitors to come.
I heard over and over, “If we could get a grant to build _______, our problems would be solved.” The “thing” they wanted to build was usually some kind of resort that would attract people who otherwise may not have appreciated all the things that they have to offer visitors.
I heard about golf courses and casinos and luxury accommodations.
This Travel Daily News article points up the fallacy of those wishes and hopes.
It talks about the negative impact of all-inclusive resorts on surrounding towns in Greece, detailing what happens when a resort includes so many services, visitors never have to leave.
It shows that a nod toward “sustainability of the area” is left to the resort developer whose primary business responsibility is his own bottom line.
They link to a documentary, “Jamaica For Sale,” which discusses the problems and issues associated with largely unregulated all-inclusive resorts in that country
What about Indian casinos, you might ask?
There are studies, usually paid for by the gaming industry, showing vast benefit to small towns and rural communities from an Indian gaming facility in their area.
This is a very complicated issue, and any small town considering this alternative needs to do intensive research. One balanced study I found “Economic Impacts of Gambling” is part of a larger paper, “Gaming in California.”
After reviewing these and other documents and studies available online, most small towns and rural communities may realize the complexity of negotiating development. They will realize that it is difficult to get results that will help rather than hinder their small town.
How Can You Save Your Small Town
Getting back to my very first quote, “We have so much to offer visitors,” it is clear that most small towns that are looking to tourism to save themselves know that they already have something to offer visitors.
There may be gaps is services, ie, too few restaurants or motels, but there are attractions in these towns.
They have outdoor recreation close by. They have lovely historic buildings and fascinating stories to tell. They have locally owned restaurants, and safe walkable downtowns. They have residents – artists, craftsmen and storytellers – doing interesting things.
In our current Experience Economy, with people looking for Authentic Experiences, there is a market for these types of visitor attractions!
What is missing is the marketing necessary to connect visitors and the places offering the things they are searching for.
And because they are searching largely on the internet, connecting with them is a matter of learning a set of internet marketing skills rather than spending buckets of money on advertising.
That’s what is available here at RuralTourismMarketing.com. It’s what Becky McCray is talking about at Small Biz Survival. It’s what’s being taught in classes and trainings through organizations like Arkansas Small Business Technology Development Center and Rural Development Initiatives in Oregon.
Everything you need to save your town already exists within your town. You have the talent, the entrepreneurial spirit, the core of volunteers ready to take action and the attractions.
Look within for your solutions, and ask for the help you need to enhance what you already have, and to do the internet marketing necessary to let the world know about you.
Here are several posts to help you get started: