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Heritage Tourism

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Heritage tourism encompasses elements of living culture, history, and natural history of place
that communities value and steward for the future. These elements are very specific to a community
or region and can contribute to pride, stability, growth, and economic development.
Heritage and culture are especially critical in rural settings.
The Heritage Tourism Initiative Core Team

About  •   Heritage Tourism Resources

These materials are for teams working in communities and regions.

We hope you find them useful

Approach to Heritage Tourism Development

These resources provide a process approach to helping communities and organizations assess, plan for, develop, implement, and evaluate their heritage tourism efforts . This is not a linear approach; each module could stand alone or be a part of an overall process of heritage tourism development. Taken as a whole, these resources provide a guide to help your community approach heritage tourism as an economic and community development strategy. Individually, each module can assist your community team strengthen its process and help analyze and build on your capacities and strengths. This is a circular process. Many of the steps can be occurring at the same time, as well as each building upon the other. These modules are for community and economic development practitioners, community members and others interested in using their community’s heritage --cultural and natural resources-- to help build and sustain their community.

These modules provide introductions to concepts and overview processes for your community to understand exactly what heritage tourism means and how it can be accomplished. They help assess your community’s ability to plan for and implement heritage tourism, assess costs and benefits and determine whether it is a good fit. In addition, these resources offer you a platform for community discovery. If your community determines it wants to pursue heritage tourism, then you can look at how it becomes a “welcoming” community and understands hospitality and all its ramifications. Finally, these modules provide the information needed to implement heritage tourism as a strategy for improving health and economic sustainability as the community itself defines them.

Introductory webinars review resources and process

The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development hosted a series of seven webinars debuting information found at this website. Webinars were recorded and are archived at the NCRCRD website and are available for your viewing. 

Web materials--a resource for your planning

The information and materials presented here do not go into great depth but provide introductory concepts and suggestions for how it can be accomplished.  Don’t work in isolation. Engaging the entire community will build awareness and investment, and provide a platform for discovery that can help you see yourself through “new” eyes.
The information and links provide tools and guidance that can be used in your community. We recommend a diverse community team and using an experienced facilitator as needed.

This project will help organizations and communities become more effective at tourism.
While we will not be developing sites, a result of this work is that others will develop more effective
sites, communities will plan and promote together, customers will be engaged and understood,
and organizations and communities will impact their own sustainability. 
Connie Mefford, University of Missouri

     Image of Michigan's working farms and farm markets courtesy C. Osborn      Image of Migrant children's float, a part of the National Cherry Festival parade, Traverse City, MI  Image of Children gathered outside the Michigan State University Museum      

Michigan's working farms and farm markets courtesy C. Osborn. Migrant children's float, a part of the National Cherry Festival parade, Traverse City, MI.
Children gathered outside the Michigan State University Museum.

Resource modules that you will find here:

• Introduction to heritage tourism

     What is heritage tourism?
     Importance of heritage tourism
     Regionalism as a concept

• A fit for your community?

     Community building
     Economic strategies

• Initiating heritage tourism

     Assessing your community
     Creating  engagement

• Organizing and planning

     Determining key participants and stakeholders
     Building partnerships
     Strategic Planning
     Action Planning

• Product development


• Markets & hospitality


• Resources


• Evaluation

     Life cycle and renewal

• Project history

    To learn about our project history

• Credits: team members & sponsors

   For more information on team members (biographies and contact information) and sponsors

  •  Julie Avery, Ph.D.. Michigan State University Museum Curator and MSU Extension Cultural Economic Development Specialist, averyj@msu.edu

  • Francis Boggus & Associates, LLC Community Planning & Development Des Moines, Iowa, francis@francisboggus.com

  • Jonathon Day, Ph.D., MBA Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University, gjday@purdue.edu

  • Kathy Dothage, Osage County Program Director, University of Missouri Extension, dothagem@missouri.edu

  • Larry Dickerson Community Development Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Boone County, dickersonL@missouri.edu

  • Connie Mefford Community Development Specialist and Benton County Program Director, University of Missouri Extension, meffordc@missouri.edu

  • Eric Thompson, Ph.D. Associate Director and Professor, Bureau of Business Research, Department of Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, ethompson2@unl.edu

Website Announcement

  Download our website announcement and share it with others

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Please share your experiences!

We hope that you and others will add to this body of knowledge by providing additional examples, other educational materials, new resources and your community success stories. These can be added to this repository of knowledge on heritage tourism and shared with others who visit and use this site. Questions and comments are welcome. Suggestions and feedback on materials presented here are welcome. Please send questions, comments, your materials and stories to:

Julie Avery • averyj@msu.edu • Michigan State University Museum & Extension



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