Implementing a more creative, alternative tourism

In the last of our three-part series on civic tourism (remember, this is about attracting travelers like you and me, not the ones sought by Disneyworld), we’ll look at how to actually implement it in the real world, based on these tools:

Integrate the Product
Especially if you’re a progressive destination, you’d already have an eco-tourism or cultural heritage tourism program in place, or an entertainment-oriented one like Athfest. Invest in squares, parks and buildings that enhance these themes on a day-day basis, like Denver does with its outdoor/recreation reputation.

Differentiate the Product
This is a CoolTown mantra – be unique. Easy to envision, hard to do: Focus on independents instead of chains – that’s 90% of it right there.

Reveal, Don’t Cover Up
In other words, no aquariums or stadiums per se, but finding out a city’s best assets and investing in that, like jazz clubs in New Orleans (pictured) and the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

Deliberate, Don’t Debate
It’s not about the economy vs. preserving local character, it’s about celebrating the local character to establish an economy. Until there’s a civic tourism program in place, expect more infighting rather than inspired investment in parks, pedestrian plazas and indie restaurant entertainment districts.

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