Section IV
How Are Tourism Initiatives Developed

By now you have come to understand:

   Tourism’s role as a growth industry in the US and Texas,

   Definitions of tourism and tourists,

   Ways to understand travel markets and destinations,

   How the tourism system functions and conditions for making it work smoothly,

   Benefits and costs of tourism development, and

   Methods of assessing tourism as a sound development alternative for your community.

If you have decided in favor of more tourism in your community then you are ready to begin planning for its development.  Successful tourism development depends upon five factors:

1. Attracting appropriate visitors to your destination area (i.e. community and surrounding region).

2. Providing tourists with a satisfying experience that meets (better yet, exceeds) their expectations.  This will result in repeat visits and positive “word of mouth” promotion.  Because word of mouth is considered one of the most effective forms of promotion, this last point cannot be overstated.

3. Keeping tourists in your destination area for as long as possible.

4. Satisfying the needs and concerns of local residents by involving them in directing, controlling and providing the tourist services and experiences.  Local control over tourism development is critical if tourism growth is to be sustainable with respect to local resources.

5. Ensuring leadership, organizing and planning for sustainable tourism development, with a perspective adopted from a community-based vision of how it wishes to evolve over the medium to long-term.

Attracting, satisfying, and keeping tourists does not just happen.  It is the result of careful tourism planning¾planning that builds on a community’s unique features with certain travel markets in mind.  It is also the result of committed leadership and organizing tourism in the community.  This leadership helps to ensure that the conditions for effective tourism development (regional cooperation, financial support, and community support and involvement) are continually in place.  You have already discussed the importance of leadership as a fifth condition for effective tourism.  This section begins by focusing on ways tourism leadership can be encouraged at the community level through the formation of a tourism task force.  Steps explaining the tourism planning process that will help to turn tourism ideas into action are presented.  Worksheets are provided to help apply these steps to your own community.

Organizing and Leadership for Community Tourism

No vision of community tourism development has ever been realized without leadership.  Typically, a special interest group first spearheads tourism interests.  In Texas, these groups have included business associations, chambers of commerce, historical societies, economic development commissions, attraction associations, local government officials, and groups of concerned citizens.  Indeed, you are very likely a member of one or more such interest groups!

Groups that provide leadership in initial tourism efforts are critical to getting the ball rolling.  Often, they possess a great deal of hands-on expertise related to tourism and have an understanding of those travel markets your community is already serving.  While special interest groups provide the much-needed initial thrust for tourism, longer-term tourism development efforts are best achieved if local leadership represents the broad range of community stakeholders and interests that are important to the delivery of the tourism product.  As you have already seen, tourism is a community affair.  One vehicle that is successfully used by many communities to ensure a broad leadership base is a tourism task force.

Note that a tourism task force is only one way of organizing leadership in the tourism development process.  Other organizations may be called upon or formed to assume leadership for tourism development and marketing.  For instance, in a small community where tourism is too small a component to merit having a Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development often manages tourism related issues and can be called upon to lead the tourism process until a specific tourism organization is formed.

What Is A Tourism Task Force?

A tourism task force is a formal association responsible for initiating, planning, and evaluating tourism within your community on an ongoing basis.  Tourism task forces may vary considerably from one place to another.  Often they are housed within existing organizations, such as chambers of commerce or historical societies.  In the early stages of tourism development, the director and other key players are likely to be volunteers.  As tourism expands within the community, these functions may become the responsibility of a professional tourism staff.

What Are the Advantages of A Tourism Task Force?

   As an association of community representatives, the tourism task force helps evaluate the costs and benefits of tourism for different sectors of the economy (i.e. commercial, public, non-profit).

   The task force ensures that a wide range of ideas and interests of community groups, as well as the general public, are considered in the tourism planning process.

   The task force helps keep the community informed about new tourism initiatives.  Each member communicates with the groups he or she can most effectively reach.  This helps to educate the public.

   The task force helps community members to work together to adopt a community approach to tourism development.

   The task force assumes responsibility for identifying tourism goals, coordinating tourism interests, and launching them into appropriate action.

Who should serve On the Tourism Task Force?

Typically, a task force is best served by 9 to 12 community members who are:

   recognized and respected leaders in the community that potentially represent all sectors of the local communities

   work well with others and have a high level of commitment to community development efforts

   have sufficient time and resources to commit to the project

You know that tourism is not the responsibility of a single community group, or even a single sector of the economy.  Members of a task force should, therefore, represent commercial, public, and non-profit sectors, as well as the general public.  Within your own community, certain organizations, such as a retail association, may already be aware of their tourism role.  Others, such as an agricultural association that organizes an annual fair, may already be contributing to tourism without realizing it.  These and other groups may provide the leadership essential to a tourism task force within your community.

What Does A Tourism Task Force Do?

By now you have assessed the benefits and costs of tourism and its position within your economic development plan.  If you are proceeding with development you should have a clear understanding of the community needs that tourism development can enhance.

Before embarking on tourism development, the initial job of the task force is to identify and prioritize the underlying goals of these efforts.  For example:

   Is tourism primarily a vehicle for increasing revenues, tax base, and/or employment?

   Is tourism primarily a way to generate interest and revenues necessary to support historic preservation?

   Is tourism a vehicle for creating a new community image, attracting other industries, and promoting economic diversification?

While tourism development will likely deliver a variety of benefits, agreement by members of the task force upon the primary goals tourism is designed to accomplish will provide the focus necessary to shape subsequent planning and development efforts.

What Is Involved In Tourism Planning and Development?

A great many tasks and responsibilities are included in the framework of the tourism planning process discussed in detail on the following pages.  First, look at some of the tasks your community’s tourism task force may need to undertake:

Community Education: responsible for improving community awareness and appreciation of tourism by educating residents about their community assets so they can be effective ambassadors.

Business Expansion: responsible for identifying and generating opportunities to develop or improve tourism services.

Regulation Research: responsible for communicating with legislators and other public officials regarding government and legal regulations that will affect tourism.

Community Beautification: responsible for identifying community beautification projects that improve environmental quality, such as those that focus on community entrances and downtown areas.  These projects often represent ideal service opportunities for local groups such as garden clubs, youth groups and historical societies.

Hospitality Training: responsible for identifying ways to improve hospitality extended by both front-line and back-stage employees.  (See Texas Hospitality Program under Texas Agricultural Extension Service, in companion documents Sources of Assistance for Tourism in Texas.)

Promotion:  responsible for promoting the community and region’s tourism resources to target markets.

Marketing Research: responsible for collecting information about existing and potential markets, and forwarding recommendations regarding target markets.

Regional Cooperation: responsible for working with representatives of neighboring cities and towns to ensure that regional tourism objectives are advanced.  Working regionally is part of networking; sharing ideas and information with others to the benefit of all.

Evaluation:  responsible for identifying criteria for evaluating individual program effectiveness and overall tourism impact.

The Tourism Planning Process

With committed tourism leadership in place, goals prioritized, and tasks acknowledged, your community is ready to begin assessing, developing, and promoting its special tourism opportunities.  The process of tourism assessment and development is called the tourism planning process.  Basically, the tourism planning process addresses four questions:

1.  Where are we now? 

        · This is covered by the community analysis and the market analyses.

2.  Where would we like to be? 

        ·  This requires the development of a community-based tourism vision and direction, as well as, identify tourism development goals and  
    broad strategies for each goal.

3.  How will we get there? 

·  This is determined by setting specific objectives and action plans to achieve the goals, strategies and vision identified in step 2.

4.  How will we know when we get there? 

·  This is covered by your evaluation of tourism results, as well as a monitoring plan that enables you to set and measure performance
standards and indicators, as well as adjust various parts of the overall plan based on ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

Tourism planning is not a one-time effort.  It is an ongoing process where planning is dynamic and iterative rather than sequential and linear.  This fits with the characteristics of tourism as a high dynamic system of interrelated parts. A change in any one factor, such as your tourism attractions, will likely affect all other elements of tourism in your community-services, promotion, and transportation.  Likewise, turnover in leadership of business, government, and non-profit organizations suggest ideas, assets, and visitors will change as leaders change. 

There are five steps to this tourism planning process (refer to the corresponding worksheets for guidance):

1. community analysis
2. market analysis
3. create a vision statement and identify tourism goals and broad strategies
4. establish specific objectives and action plans
5. monitor, evaluate and adjust various aspects of the above as required.

Step 1: Community Analysis

The first step of the tourism planning process is a community analysis.  This analysis answers the following questions:

   Are the citizens and leaders of our community ready to consider tourism as an economic building block?

   To what degree are we fulfilling our tourism potential?

   What are our opportunities and concerns for future development?

A community analysis requires that you thoroughly assess the strengths and weaknesses of your community’s tourism foundation.  The goal of community analysis is to develop a list of strengths and concerns associated with each of the elements of the tourism system including:

    •   community attitudes and values
   attractions and events
   commercial services
   public facilities and services (infrastructure)
   regulation and policy
   local economic climate and demographics
convention and meeting facilities

Assessing the strengths and concerns associated with each of these factors is a three-step process that involves:

1.  Identifying all attractions, commercial services, public facilities, and services, communication factors, transportation factors, regulations/policies, and community attitudes that are important to tourism.

2.  Creating two lists, one for each of the eight tourism elements listed above with the first listing tourism strengths and the second listing tourism concerns.

3.  Ranking the lists of the most important strengths and urgent concerns associated with each element of the planning process.

Obtaining feedback from those in the tourism planning process is very important.  Successful meetings and discussions with interested parties do not just happen; they must be planned and conducted in a fashion that generates the required information and caters to the needs and interests of participants.  A discussion of how to conduct such a meeting is beyond the scope of this guide, but please refer to two other Extension publications:

1.   How to Generate and Evaluate Ideas: A Guide to Brainstorming and Nominal Group Techniques by John Crompton and Carson Watt.

2.  Texas Tourism Information Needs Assessment: Utilizing Nominal Group Techniques (NGT) with Selected Industry Representatives by Carson Watt.

What Are Tourism Strengths?

Tourism strengths are all the characteristics of your community that attract, serve, help, or satisfy tourists.  Every community has strengths, for example a new swimming pool, a viable manufacturing plant, or a recently expanded library.  However none of these can be considered tourism strengths unless they somehow support tourism.

Some of your community’s tourism strengths may be found outside your community.  For example, tourists traveling through your community may be on their way to or from an attraction, such as a state park that is some distance away.  Nevertheless the park would be an attraction or strength to your community.

What Are Tourism Concerns?

Tourism concerns are the characteristics of your community that weaken its tourism potential.  Tourism concerns can be:

Negative Characteristics: of those same factors you identified as strengths.  For example, your downtown area may be a district of historical significance (listed as Strength), but no one outside your community may know of it.  This would be a tourism concerns.

Outright Liabilities: These are features that detract from your community’s ability to attract and serve tourists such as an unsightly industrial plant at your town’s entrance, an unpleasant climate, an unappealing natural setting, or a remote location.  Outright liabilities may seem insurmountable.  By listing them, however, they will be put in their proper perspective.  Innovative solutions to surmounting these problems may even be found.  For example, a remote community may offset the effects of its location by developing several multi-day special events around a special community theme and by working in conjunction with transportation companies to make travel to the community worthwhile.

Undeveloped Ideas: Great ideas that have not been acted on may also be identified as concerns.  While creating your list of assets, great ideas may have been voiced that have not yet been tapped.  For example, your community may have a unique historical or cultural theme.  As you identified assets someone might have mentioned “Our heritage could form the basis for a unique special event.”  If no action has been taken to communicate the potential of that theme, however, the idea becomes a Concern.

A word of caution: Listing general tourism concerns is often easy.  For example, reporting “visitors who arrive do not stay long enough” is a legitimate concern - but not one that pinpoints the real problems.  Instead, focus on why tourists do not stay longer - because hotels are poor quality, because there’s no nightlife, because they do not know about all there is to do.  The more specifically you state your concerns, the easier it will be to find solutions to them.  The same is true of your tourism strengths.  The more specifically you identify them, the better you will be able to develop and market them to tourists.  Objectivity on the part of community leaders is a prerequisite to evaluating tourism strengths and concerns.

Each of eight elements that affect tourism in your community is addressed in the next few pages.  Remember the key to understanding what your community has to offer tourists is in looking at your community through your visitors’ eyes.  Be honest.  What you find appealing as a resident may be of little concern to a tourist.  Conversely, what you take for granted as a resident may have great tourism value.

Assess Community Attitudes and Values

As we have discussed in Section III, community support of tourism is essential to its success.  For example, community support means better hospitality . . . which means more satisfied visitors . . . which means repeat visits and positive word-of-mouth promotion of your destination area . . . which means more tourism.

Although local residents usually recognize the economic advantages of tourism development, being a host community requires that they share their hometown with strangers.  Conflict between tourists and local residents can often be traced to residents feelings that they are losing their sacred places, places in their community that have a special meaning for residents like a special park, a stretch of beach, a favorite restaurant, or a community event.

To avoid conflicts between tourists and residents, it is essential that the attitudes of community residents toward tourism and toward their community’s resources be assessed.  For example, residents may take enormous pride in showing off one waterfront park (Community Attitude & Strength) to tourists, but resent having to share another beach area with strangers (Community Attitude & Concern). 

Table 3 lists a variety of community groups that may be concerned with tourism.  Their attitudes concerning hospitality, civic pride, interest in tourism, economic development, and preservation of existing life style should be assessed.  Worksheet 2a will help you to identify the strengths and concerns associated with your community’s host population.  Worksheet 2b will help you develop a value statement, which presents the espoused values of a community in a concise manner.

Table 3. Community Members and Organizations Concerned with Tourism

City and County Officials

Mayor or Chief Executive

Parks and Recreation Director

City Council

County Agricultural Agent

County Commissioners

City Manager

County Judge

Chairman of Planning Commission

Fire/Police Chief

Other Local Political Leaders

Officers and Leaders of Civic, Business and
Non-profit Organizations

Chamber of Commerce

Business Professional Women’s Club

Rotary Club

Junior Chamber of  Commerce

Lions Club

American Legion

Optimist Club

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Kiwanis Club

Garden Club

Pilot Club

Other Service Organizations

Historical Societies

Hotel/Restaurant Associations

Arts Council

Retail Associations

Attraction Associations

Economic Development Commission

Local Businesses

Newspaper Editor

TV/Radio Station Managers

Oil Distributors

Restaurant Managers

Service Station Dealers

Taxi and Car Rental Operators

Automobile Dealers


Tire and Auto Parts Dealers


Automobile Repair Shop Owners

Travel Agents

Hotel and Motel Managers

Real Estate Agents

Other Retailers

Theater and Amusement Operators

Tourist Attraction Operators

Insurance Company Executives



Educational and Religious Leaders

College Officials

Church Leaders

School Principals

Religious Organizations

District Leaders





Assess Attractions

Features of your community and its surroundings that attract (or have the potential to attract) visitors should be inventoried.  Attractions are the basic tourism assets of your community and region.  They form the theme of your area and generate tourism demand.  While they may seem commonplace to residents they may have great appeal to visitors.  One way of understanding your attractions is to look at who is currently visiting your area.

   What draws visitors to your community?

   What do they do while they are there?

   Are they en route to somewhere else?

   Is your community one stop among several within your region?

Worksheet 3 provides an extensive checklist for your attraction inventory.  This checklist, though not exhaustive, may suggest attractions that could easily be developed and might otherwise be overlooked.  Space has been provided to add attractions that are unique to your community.  As the checklist illustrates, attractions and services are not always clearly separable.  For example, unique restaurants are often attractions in and of themselves.  Remember that many attractions that draw visitors to your community may be outside your community’s boundaries.  Maintain a regional perspective!

As you conduct the various assessment outlined in this section, it is important to incorporate plans to maintain an ongoing inventory of the resources, facilities, services, infrastructures and other data that you will gather related to tourism development and impacts.  An inventory is not a one-time activity, since the tourism implementation, monitoring, evaluation and adjustment will require updated information and data pertaining to both the supply and demand side of the tourism development.




Once you have taken an inventory of your attractions you can begin to identify tourism strengths and concerns.  Worksheet 4 will help you do this.  When all possible strengths and concerns are listed the next step is to rank the most important strengths and most urgent concerns to identify those that are of highest priority.  Rank at least the top five strengths and concerns (from one to five).  Suggested criteria for ranking your tourism strengths and weaknesses are listed at the bottom of the worksheets.  If your community has special tourism considerations, such as a seasonality problem or the desire to protect an environmentally sensitive area¾do not hesitate to introduce ranking criteria that are relevant to your community’s special needs.




Assess Commercial Services

Businesses that serve tourists generate the major economic impacts of tourism.  Typically we think of tourist dollars being spent mainly on food and lodging.  While a major portion of the tourism dollars are spent in these two areas, many other businesses benefit from tourism.  Businesses that are often important to tourism are listed in Table 4.


Table 4. Businesses That Serve Tourists





bed and breakfast inns


trailer parks



family restaurants

fast food

ethnic cuisine

fine dining


movie theaters

bowling alleys

skating rinks

shopping malls


Transportation Services

gas stations

service stations/car repair

automobile parts store

taxi and car rental services

travel agencies


drug stores/pharmacies

grocery stores

convenience stores

clothing stores

gift shops/souvenir shops

sporting goods stores

specialty shops

Other Services

real estate agencies


health services

communication services

Your inventory should be detailed.  Gather as much information as you can about your community’s commercial services so that you can assess strengths and weakness from the tourists’ point of view.  Consider the following:

   location¾is it convenient to tourists?

   hours and seasons of operation

   seating capacity (restaurants, attractions)

   number of rooms and available facilities (lodging)

   ability to cater to tourists (properly trained employees, speed of service)

   other characteristics of your service foundation

Consider how these services complement your attractions.  For example, there is little point in promoting attendance at a three-day festival if there are few hotel rooms to accommodate the crowd.

An Important Fact about Commercial Services

With the exception of lodging businesses, services that cater to travelers often have local markets that are larger than their travel markets.  For example, restaurants and service stations, both very important to travelers, may obtain most of their business from local residents.  As a result, their location and service may favor residents over travelers.  It is important to evaluate how well lodging, food service, retail shops, and entertainment businesses are oriented to tourists as well as local trade.

Worksheet 5 is for listing and ranking the strengths and concerns of your community’s commercial services.




Assess Public Facilities and Services

Public facilities and services, sometimes referred to as tourism infrastructure, are important to the atmosphere of your community.  An increase in visitation to your community will heighten demands on public facilities and services.  While it is not possible or desirable to gear public facilities and services to tourists’ needs altogether, the ability of your community’s infrastructure to meet increased tourism demands and its effects on environmental quality must be carefully evaluated.  Table 5 lists some of the public facilities and services that support tourism.  Worksheet 6 will assist in listing and ranking the strengths and concerns of this very important tourism element.

Table 5. Public Facilities and Services That Support Tourism




Public Works

County Commissioners Precinct

County Road and Bridge

• quality of street surfaces

• signage

• taxi regulation

• airport operation and access

• access to facilities and attractions

• parking

• litter and trash

• infrastructure for development such as new hotels

• water quality


• public transit


County Sheriff

• crime control

• traffic control

• information


• zoning for tourist facilities and services (e.g. service stations, restaurants)

• regulation of land uses and ancillary features such as commercial signs

• comprehensive planning

• downtown redevelopment/urban renewal

• historic preservation

Economic Development

• support for tourism-related business

• influence on economic mix

Parks and Recreation

• parks and other leisure services

• cultural attractions

• special events

• beautification

Public Affairs

• city image

• publicity for events and attractions

• encourage citizen support for tourism




Assess Transportation

Key transportation systems in Texas are air and highway, with some cities served by rail and coach.  There currently is a growing opportunity for cruise ships to make gulf coast cities ports of call.  Because this element of the tourism system physically links your community with tourist markets, it is essential to understand transportation modes currently used and the potential for change.  Transportation is an element of the tourism system that is particularly influenced by external factors.  Changes in fuel prices, airline deregulation and bus schedules are all factors that have recently affected travel.

Worksheet 7 will help identify your transportation strengths and concerns.  Begin by identifying the major transportation modes by which visitors reach your community (e.g. air, bus, and car).  All together you should assess three important areas of transportation:

1. to your community from your market origins

2. within your community and between attractions and service             centers, etc.

3. between your community and other communities in your tourism region

As you assess the strengths and concerns of transportation to and within your community, consider comfort, safety, signage, scheduling, parking, transfers (e.g. airport to bus), and means important to transportation factors.




Assess Communication Strategy

As every traveler becomes more knowledgeable and sophisticated, the amount and quality of information required becomes increasingly important.  It is no longer sufficient to use an approach for providing tourism information that assumes all visitors want to know the same things about attractions and services.  This is the era of the discriminating tourist, where visitors seek greater satisfaction from their experience and are more selective when deciding where to travel.

In the broadest sense, you will have three markets to which you must promote tourism: tourists, local residents, and industry representatives.

Tourists need information at two distinct points in their travel experience: 1) before arriving at your community they need to be made aware of what it has to offer and be persuaded to visit, and 2) once in your community tourists require interpretive information, directional signs, tours, city maps, displays, and visitor services to meet their ongoing information needs.

Local residents also require tourism information about their community and the surrounding region so that they can effectively serve as community ambassadors when friends and relatives arrive.  They may also use this information when making their own decisions to participate in leisure activities.

Industry representatives such as tour bus operators and hotel managers need to be informed and kept current about travel, recreation, and leisure opportunities in your community.

Worksheet 8 will help with listing and ranking the strengths and concerns associated with your communications efforts.  As you assess this important element of the tourism system, consider the following:

   Do visitors perceive that the written information is accurate and clearly communicates its message?

   Can visitors readily learn of the location, price, and business hours of services and attractions?

   Are information centers open when needed the most?

   Are tours of special attractions available, such as historic districts, universities, and manufacturing plants?

   What percentage of the tourism development budget are currently spent on promotional efforts?  To what market are they targeted?  Are these efforts effective?

   To what extent are residents familiar with community promotion materials?

A note on communications: We saw in Section II (How Does Tourism Function?) that tourism communication is a two-way process.  Promotion represents communication from destinations to markets.  Marketing research seeks to secure the flow of information from markets back to destinations.  Because of the importance of understanding markets, Step 2 of the Tourism Planning Process is devoted specifically to this topic.



Assess Government Regulations and Policies

All communities have existing regulations or policies that influence favorably or otherwise the development of tourism.  Zoning ordinances may limit the development of new attractions or services.  Controlled business hours may limit the opportunity to cater to the tourist.  Liquor laws will shape certain service offerings.  Portions of lodging taxes may be earmarked for community development.  Certain financing policies such as special tax district designation may favor the development of special areas for tourism.  State and federal regulations may also play an important role in shaping tourism development for both the public and private sectors.

Very early in the tourism development process, community policies and regulations must be identified and reviewed.  Residents must ask themselves and others:

   Are some current regulations and policies obsolete?

   Do regulations reflect the needs of tourism as well as the needs of local residents?

   Do regulations and policies interfere with service delivery opportunities?

   Are new environmental regulations needed to protect tourism assets and resources?

For a complete listing of Texas State Law pertaining to tourism development, please refer to Texas Tourism Development Laws by Ronald Kaiser, June 1985.  This publication is available through the Texas Agricultural Extension Service (Publication Number B1517).

Worksheet 9 will help you in identifying and ranking the regulations and policies of your community that favor tourism development, and those that are concerns.



Assess Local And Demographic Climate

All communities have an existing economic climate and demographic composition that influences patterns of tourism development.  The availability of a workforce and unemployment, the level of labor forces, and the banking climate all contribute to development potential.  Worksheet 10 will help in identifying some of the important issues related to your local economic climate.


Step 2: Market Analysis

Once you have completed your community analysis you should have a good understanding of its tourism strengths and concerns.  These strengths and concerns suggest the kinds of tourism experiences (the products) that are available within your community.  Worksheet 11 will help you develop a statement of tourism potential based on these products.  The next step in the tourism planning process is to identify those markets to which tourism experiences should be directed.


Local Markets and Tourist Markets

In the broadest sense, every community has two markets to consider when planning for tourism, a tourist market, and a local market.  As your community analysis surely indicated, every tourism resource that serves visitors may also serve local residents.  When planning for community tourism development it is essential that your local market be considered.  Besides generating a great deal of demand for businesses that serve tourists, local markets are important when reaching the largest travel group in the nation¾those who travel to visit family and friends.

Identifying Target Markets

We know from Section II that market segmentation is the process of breaking the total travel market into smaller, more uniform groups.  This is one of the basic principles of tourism development and marketing.  Target marketing takes the market segmentation process one step further.  It involves identifying those market segments that will be most receptive to your particular tourism destination, in short identifying those segments to which your tourism product can be targeted most effectively.  By now you are aware of the strengths and concerns associated with your community as a destination area.  This step of the tourism planning process requires that you also become very familiar with your existing and potential tourist markets and identify those that are of top priority, your targets.

The easiest way to begin identifying target markets is to look at those visitors your community already receives¾friends/family of local residents, vacationers, business people, travelers just passing through, and so forth.  Although local statistics may not be readily available, community businesses are sources of information on specific customer groups.  Tap into your local expertise to assist in answering the following questions:

   Why do they come here?

   Where do they come from?

   What are their socio-economic characteristics?

   What attractions/services do they require?

   What do they like?

   When do they come here?  How often?  For how long?

   How do we reach them?

   How do they spend their money?

These questions all help to better understand and identify different market segments.  Table 6 (on the following page) describes the tourism market segmentation approaches to which these questions apply.  Worksheet 12a will help you apply these segmentation approaches to your existing and potential markets.  Worksheet 12b will then help you summarize what you have identified in Worksheet 12a.  Begin Worksheet 12a by looking back to the tourist types you have identified characterized first by trip purpose (e.g. sightseeing, camping, and visiting family).  Then work across the page answering as many questions about that tourist group as you can.  The more you know about your markets the better you will be able to understand, satisfy, and communicate with them.  Focus first on your existing markets since fewer resources and less time are needed to develop them.  If desired you can then identify market segments to which your tourism products potentially might appeal.

Table 6. Tourism Market Segmentation Approaches



Purpose of Trip/Descriptors


Pleasure Travel

      Touring or Vacation

      Visits to family and friends

Personal Business

This is usually the most effective segmentation approach because the target market is actively seeking your kind of product.





Other Business:

      Commercial Salespersons


      Local companies







      Social functions


Tournament/Sports Groups


Passing Through




State, Province, County


Urban, Suburban or Rural

Population Density

City Size

This is the most common segmentation approach because these markets are clearly defined and accessible.  It is often not an efficient approach, however, unless it is used in combination with other visitor characteristics.

Socio-Economic or Demographic






Family Size

Family Life Cycle

Social Class

Home Ownership/Second Home Ownership

Race or Ethnic Group


This is a commonly used segmentation approach, since these segments are often easy to reach, and information on them is usually available.




Recreation Activity


Brand Loyalty

Benefit Expectations

Length of Stay

Transportation Needs

Experience Preference

These are difficult segments to reach, but they are well matched to the use of specific products.




Personality Traits


Attitude, Interest and Opinions


In tourism, this can be an effective segmentation approach, since tourism product use is extensive among certain psychographic groups.  Also, many advertising media are segmented in this way.

Use Frequency/Seasonality


Heavy Users

Moderate Users

Infrequent Users

Data should be readily available on these customers, so this method is likely to be cost effective.

Channel of Distribution


Direct Customer Sales Travel Agents Tour Operators Tour Wholesalers Government Tourism Marketing Organizations Regional and Local Tourism Associations Airlines

This approach is effective in farther afield markets that cannot be reached directly at reasonable cost or where travel trade companies have a market that is closely matched to yours.




Ranking Market Segments

Very likely, your community’s tourism supply is (or can be) attractive to several market segments.  To identify those segments that are most important from a community tourism development viewpoint, it is necessary to rank them.  Eight criteria are offered for ranking your markets.  They are:

1.   Accessible:  You must be able to reach the market segment through information and promotion.  For this reason, your existing markets should rank higher than potential markets since you have already developed a point of contact with them.

2.   Substantial:  The market segment must be large enough to justify the time and resources required catering to it.

3.   Measurable:  You should be able to identify the size of the market segment so that some estimate of potential tourism can be made.

4.   Durable:  There must be some expectation that the market segment will remain viable over a reasonable period of time; it should not be based on a fad.

5.   Defensible:  You should be able to demonstrate that the characteristics of the segment are sufficiently unique from other segments.

6.   Competitive:  You should be able to demonstrate a competitive edge when catering to this market segment.

7.   Economical:  You should evaluate the economic value of the segment to your community.  Do they purchase your products and in what volume?

8.   Compatible:  Are the values, tastes, and behaviors of this segment compatible with those of community residents?

Step 3: Create A Vision Statement And Set Tourism Goals and Strategies

Once your community and market analyses are complete, and your strengths, concerns, and market segments prioritized, you are ready to formalize a tourism vision statement.  You may also wish to specify with the statement a set of values and principles to guide the tourism development and planning process.  These values and principles can be identified from the visioning exercise. The visioning process should involve as wide a range as possible of the community’s stakeholders. Since the residents are a key stakeholder at the community level, it is vital that the visioning exercise and statement include resident voices and perspectives in a meaningful way, i.e., the resident input should not be a token input to demonstrate that this is a community-based vision. While each community may develop different mechanisms for such public input, based on the cultural and political context of the particular community, some ways of getting resident input are:

§  setting up specific visioning workshops for the public

§  public meetings

§  community-wide surveys (mail-in questionnaires distributed via postal service, local newspapers, community bulletins, etc.

§  phone-in talk shows (local radio and television)

§  establishing a vision sub-committee or steering committee consisting of different stakeholders and community members, who then coordinate  the gathering of community wide input and compile the information into a vision statement.

The visioning process attempts to identify, through dialogue and discussion, the community’s desires, hopes, aspirations as well as community values, beliefs and attitudes towards tourism. Depending on the mechanisms chosen to garner this input, the visioning process itself may contribute to improving or establishing interpersonal relations and communication among various stakeholders. In addition, since the statement is technically not a legally enforceable document, participants are able to discuss freely issues that may be controversial or political, without fearing that they may be locked into an irreversible decision path.  Furthermore, both the process and the vision statement that is a product of the process can be used as a base from which to then go on to identify community goals and broad strategies for achieving these goals.  Having done this, you are now ready to go on to Step 4.

By now you will have carefully identified and prioritized your tourism strengths and most promising market.  The matches between your strengths and target markets will highlight your best opportunities for tourism development.  Most likely these will capitalize on existing strengths and markets.



Existing Markets: Short-Term Opportunities For Tourism

In general, there are two strategies for increasing tourism:

1. Expand the production of tourism products to better reach existing markets

2. Develop new tourism products to attract altogether new market segments

The most feasible and least costly way of increasing your tourist trade is to get more out of your existing market segments.  Attracting entirely new markets may require substantial capital investments to create a new attraction and service base.  Trying to attract a new market can be a slow and arduous process.  For more effective short-term results (although you should not ignore the long-term), start with existing market segments.  Begin by trying to increase their numbers and keep them in the area longer.

How can you begin to get more from your existing market?  Let’s return to the questions we used in Step 2 to describe market segments.  These questions should provide information concerning ways to expand existing markets and enhance your existing tourism product.

Why Do Tourists Come?

   Can more tourists who are looking for the same experience (e.g. camping) be attracted to your community if attractions, services, environmental quality, hospitality, promotion, or transportation are improved or expanded?

Where Do They Come From?

   Can members of the market (e.g. campers) from a different geographic area be reached through new promotional efforts?

What Are They Like?

   Could new age or socio-economic groups who are interested in your product be attracted if promotion was targeted to them?

What Attractions And Services Do They Look For?

   Can attractions be enhanced or expanded to make them more appealing to the market segments?

   Are there new attractions that could be easily developed to reinforce a tourism theme?

   Are services adequate?  Is there a selection of restaurants to meet their needs?  Are there lodging accommodations for those who want to stay?

   Is the community friendly and hospitable?  Are tourists made to feel welcome?  Are they invited to stay longer?

   Are the prices and quality for services compatible with the expectations and ability of the market to pay?

What Do They Like?

   Can special events be developed to enhance their tourism experience?

   Can products be developed that appeal to their family members?

When Do They Come Here?  How Often?

   Are tourist made aware of opportunities at other times during the year?

   Can a special event be used to attract tourists during low visitation seasons?

   What about local markets?  Off-seasons are often attractive times for residents to rediscover their community.

   Can tourist-business operators work together to offer price reductions during off-season?

How Do We Reach Them?

   If your market is predominantly drive-through, then more attractive and persuasive signage may draw additional travelers off the highway.

   Are tourists made aware of other activities within the community and the regional destination as a whole?  Remember communities within a region can complement one another.

   Are local markets made aware of all there is to see and do?  The more informed they are the better they can host their friends and relatives.  They may even choose to spend their own discretionary time and income vacationing at home.

At the beginning, do not spread yourselves too thinly.  Identify the particular market you believe you can develop and focus on supplying the attractions, facilities, and services that this market wants.  Trying to please everyone is an ineffective and expensive proposition.  Directing your resources toward your existing visitor market will almost certainly bring quicker and more fruitful results.  Quicker results will encourage community support and involvement while providing the foundation for ongoing development.

Potential Markets: Long-Term Opportunities For Tourism

New tourist markets and products should be a part of the longer-term tourism strategy of an area.  Two methods may be employed to discover new product markets and opportunities, surveying existing markets and looking at comparable communities in other tourist destination areas.

Surveying existing tourists may reveal preferences and desires for products not now offered but within the resource capabilities of the destination area.  Surveys need not be perceived as complex undertakings.  Local community colleges, universities, and even high schools may have the necessary expertise to conduct simple surveys. 

Visiting other destination areas with comparable resource assets is a valuable learning experience and may provide important leads for improvements in existing products and new product and market ideas.  If this method is used, it is most valuable to include a mix of local representatives in the tour.

Certainly, many opportunities lie in the development of new products and tapping of new markets.  However, these efforts often require substantial investments in capital improvements and program development.  For this reason, efforts to reach new markets by offering brand new tourism products are best achieved incrementally.  Worksheet 13a will help you to identify objectives relevant to specific market segments that will help to get this process underway.



Tourism Objectives

Tourism objectives are concise statements that answer the question “Where would we like to be with tourism within a given period of time?”  Objectives outline the specific steps necessary to address your tourism development goals.  They should be:


   stated in terms of desired results

   expressed in quantitative terms so that actual results can be measured

   achievable within a specified period of time (e.g. 1 year, 3 years, 5 years)

Objectives should be set for each of your market segments and should reflect the opportunities identified in your community analysis.  Worksheet 13a should help you develop your tourism objectives.  Opportunities for tourism development exist in what is referred to as the product-market match.  This match involves tailoring your tourism products to meet the needs and expectations of your target markets (business travelers, history buffs, outdoor recreationists, family vacationers, etc.).  Worksheet 13b provides space to summarize your objectives in a broad statement that creates a tourism development vision for your community.

Step 4: Establish Action Steps

Tourism action steps provide step-by-step outlines of the various actions needed to achieve each development objective.  In all likelihood, a number of action steps will be required for each objective.  What are the benefits of identifying action steps? 

   Tourism action steps are very specific directions for accomplishing objectives.  They identify what should be done, how, by whom, and when.

   Tourism action steps represent only the best judgment about what needs to be done.  Certainly, these steps should be flexible enough to change if they do not serve the purpose for which they were intended.

Worksheet 14 is designed to summarize the work and thinking that goes into the steps.  Depending on the number of tourism development objectives, additional worksheets may be needed to identify all action steps.  The top of the worksheet should be completed before you develop action steps so that the market segments, objectives, and strengths/concerns addressed are always in sight and mind.  The tourism task force could review all the recommended action steps and give them priority, perhaps in three time periods; one year, three years, and five years.  This will help you to address short-term steps necessary to launch into tourism action while keeping longer term concerns in mind.


Who Takes Action?

Your strategy will most certainly involve many actors.  For this reason, your action plan should be in writing, widely distributed, and discussed.  This action will help communications and build consensus for specific direction.

Development is done by three sectors: governments, commercial enterprises, and non-profit organizations.  For each sector, there must be adequate incentive for action.  For governments, the overall social welfare of the community is necessary.  While health and safety are regarded as primary governmental mandates, economic development, quality of life, and esthetics are increasingly seen as governmental responsibilities.  For example, tourism improvement may require governmental changes in tax structure, in capital improvement programs and in agency mandates.  These changes may take time but they are essential if tourism is to change.

For the commercial sector to take action, the feasibility of profits must be present.  But, even here, experience shows that not all entrepreneurs require the same levels of profits.  Some, who make very large capital investments, may require quick return and amortization of expensive finance.  Other investors may require much lower return, being satisfied with many non-economic values from being in such a tourist business.  In any case, each business must view new tourism development from its own perspective of adequate return.  Certainly, the commercial sector is primarily responsible for tourism’s economic impact but this sector is highly dependent upon public and non-profit sectors for creating the attractions and managing the resources that bring tourists.

Non-profit organizations have their own social and cultural objectives for participating in tourism.  For example, organized camps (scouts, churches, 4-H) that were developed for social and personal enrichment may be important to tourism.  Historic societies develop and restore structures for preservation purposes.  Their involvement in tourism may be motivated by the desire to generate revenues important to their ongoing efforts.  Many non-profit organizations recognize that community development and tourism programs are compatible and have similar objectives.

Publicize Opportunities Locally

Community support is the key to successful tourism.  Educational seminars and public meetings need to be on your agenda to stimulate interest in tourism development.  Involvement in tourism should be encouraged.  Tourism initiatives often come out of the woodwork in communities.  For example, cottage industries such as bed and breakfast associations and artisans’ offerings may contribute substantially to the tourism product.  For this reason, a major component of any action plan must be information dissemination and community education to encourage residents to consider special ways that they can contribute to the tourism development process.

Step 5: Evaluate Progress

Monitoring tourism growth is essential to successful tourism planning and maintaining participation.  Residents need to feel that they are receiving a return on their investment¾be it an investment of time, money, or simply a willingness to remain open-minded about this new community orientation.

One justification for expanding already existing tourism opportunities rather than creating new ones is that the results of tourism will be more easily realized.  In launching a tourism program, it is important to maintain community support and momentum to achieve some rapid, short-term results.

 Evaluating tourism progress requires gathering baseline information at the outset.  Facts about the present economic impact, number of facilities, number of jobs, and number of visitors should be obtained.  Then, as new attractions are developed, as new civic improvements are made, as businesses improve their orientation to visitors, and more effective promotion is undertaken, results should be monitored.  These data will assist with understanding successes and obstacles in the tourism development process.  They will provide the necessary supply and demand data for ongoing planning, management, and marketing directions.  For example, one important measure of tourism growth to monitor is city sales tax reimbursements.

Individual programs and projects should also have evaluation components.  How effective is advertising campaigns, special events, and other projects?  Tourism planning is not a one time effort.  Instead, it is a continual process of identifying strategies to meet a community’s needs and goals.  Only by evaluating the success of those strategies can successes and failures be identified and new directions charted.


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