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Regional Tourism Council & Business Center
February 19, 2012 - Ernest Hohmeyer
As information makes our life more complicated, we may need to get simpler.
Sometimes in our now complicated world of deciphering information, the obvious may escape us.
Following the lack of winter, Hurricane Irene and a muddled economy, we need more tourism.
Yet, an economy that relies on tourism is often not a healthy one. We need more jobs and to diversify our business base.
2 Different Worlds
How you go about attracting tourists and seeking non-tourism jobs are by its definition 2 very different worlds.
These are diverse industries because that is what you are trying to do: diversify the economy. To be successful then, you may need to have diverse approaches to attract these very different “industries.”
We often hear how tourism has become a complicated industry full of “search algorithms,” understanding “behavioral marketing,” and advertising on “customer networks.”
We are trying so hard to keep up that perhaps as a region we have not stopped, stepped back and stated the obvious: tourism has become a complicated industry.
We all know that biotechnology is a complicated industry. We know that this is a great example of how to diversify our economy.
Despite press releases and meeting our scientists at a local restaurant, we still do not have a clue what they do even with the help of several glasses of wine. Our attitude is “Sounds great man, we need more of you. Whatever it takes, we are behind you. We would like to help but we don’t know how.”
How you market and develop tourism vs. other industries has become very sophisticated in today’s information economy.
But - they may have similar goals, objectives and processes.
The Simple Things
Can we create a dedicated effort to promote tourism and an effort that talks the language of business development? It does not have to create a revolution in our community, just some simple things to get started:
1. A Place to Go. Is it possible to create a regional tourism center that looks beyond our municipal boundaries and brings us together as a region? Do you, the readers out there, even believe there should be a regional approach? That would be the first question to ask.
Is it possible to do the same to diversify our economy for non-tourism businesses such as a regional business center?
2. A Place to Bring Ideas. Could we establish a recognized forum or meeting that takes place on a publicly recognized basis, where the community can bring their ideas for events? Can a tourism stakeholders group, not a new group, but a group of all existing tourism organizations and representatives from local government, help them plan and market their event? If municipal support is required, such as clearing the streets for an event, since all the appropriate players would be present, the stakeholders group could act as a clearinghouse?
Could the regional business center do the same for non-tourism businesses? Could we create places where non-tourism businesses could go to bring their ideas?
3. A Clearinghouse If we could create focused efforts, would it then be possible to become proactive? Can we develop distinct and separate efforts that would promote tourism and events in one arena and another forum to become aggressive as a region to develop our biotechnology, wood products and other “industries?”
4. Nothing New – Just a Regional Focus Do we need to create more organizations to do this? It may not. To be successful in promoting tourism and to diversify our economy from tourism, a good first step would be to simply bring all the appropriate existing organizations together.
On the business side there are a slew of organizations who are interested in diversifying our economy. ARISE, the chambers, AEDC, ANCA, the two County IDA’s are perhaps some stakeholders that would be interested.
5. Similar Approaches – Different Missions How they go about their work may be very similar: a recognized place to go to develop their ideas; help in moving their ideas forward and by having the appropriate folks at the table – a one-stop shop for assistance.
What they would do though is very different.
The tourism folks may be concentrating on a regional master calendar, coordinated promotion among our various towns and marketing assistance in this now very scientific industry. Another key agenda item may be to enhance our tourism amenities.
Tourism experts talking to tourism folks whose livelihood is the visitor.
On the business development side, key items could be a regional economic profile that new businesses coming into the area could understand who we are and what we have to offer in terms of infrastructure, available land and incentives. A business “ambassadors” group could also be formed as a “red carpet” to lobby new businesses when they are considering locating here. Attracting businesses by speaking the industry language could be enhanced by a group made up of those industries.
Biotechnology experts talking to prospective biotechnology businesses whose livelihood is the biotechnology industry.
The regional “tourism council” and the “business center” would be made up of very different people with distinct expertise doing very different things.
How Can We Start? It may take nothing more than to ask some of these appropriate organizations what they think of this idea and to get some of these interested parties together.
Sometimes we ponder and ponder and forget to ask simple questions: Simply to contact these organizations and asked the question: do you think this is a good idea and would you like to participate?
Perhaps it’s time to do the simple things – as a region.
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