Getting started with heritage tourism

Small towns are a natural fit for heritage tourism. That’s tourism that shares our common heritage, whether it’s historical, cultural or natural.

A stone fireplace with mounted hunting trophies flanks a rugged natural bar.

This Kansas lodge builds on the area’s hunting and natural resources heritage to give guests a memorable experience.

Heritage brings together your historical museum with your festivals, artists and musicians, your agritourism and parks and nature folks.

At its best, heritage tourism is active and engaging. People getting hands-on and actively involved. People learning by trying and doing. At its worst, it’s boring, passive, and disconnected. It’s not just having historical buildings or places. It’s also about stories, and getting people involved in those stories today.

Now, this isn’t easy. But it’s a great way to differentiate your small town. Remember that you need to jettison the generic and market your town based on what is uniquely yours. Your heritage may be the easiest path to finding what’s unique about your town.

Michigan State University Heritage Tourism is home to an excellent online resource for heritage tourism. Modules include basics like finding out if this is a good fit for your town, all the way to developing your product then evaluating your efforts. It includes articles, webinars, and tools you can use to support heritage tourism.

You’ll find the online guide here: Michigan State University Heritage Tourism 

About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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