Rural and small town tourism is all about experiences. That is why you should steal this idea for your local tourism: Meet the locals in Jamaica.
[There are] about 300 ambassadors who volunteer with the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Meet the People program. Launched nearly 41 years ago, it arranges meetings between visitors and residents, basing the matches on shared occupations and interests.
Any small town, any small rural tourism business, any regional tourism association could adapt this idea. Here are ideas off the top of my head:
- Hold a picnic “mixer” with locals and visitors.
- Connect visitors with local rodeo-ers for a riding or roping lesson.
- Recruit local boaters to take visitors out sailing.
- Introduce visiting business people to your local entrepreneurs.
- Turn a museum visit into a chance to talk with local history buffs.
- Connect visiting photographers with local hobbyists for a photo walk.
- Pair visiting teachers with local teachers.
- Recruit local traditional artists to give lessons to visitors.
- Invite visitors into local events. Let them participate and role play.
- Bring visitors out to the harvest fields.
Help your visitors remember their connection. Take lots of photos and videos for them to share.
Brainstorm ways to involve visitors in your community. How can you help them connect?
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What a wonderful way of getting people from different cultures to connect.
This is one of the best ideas I’ve seen. I hope many tourism boards pick up on it and use it.
Rebecca Stasko says
Love this program -it was the inspiration for my own business(helping culturally curious travellers meet up and learn for the locals but mainly in Europe).
The Local Travel Movement (which some refer to this as) is slowly but surely taking off! Tourism Boards are slowly highlighting star Locals and offering tips or suggestions from their(the locals) point of view.
I have also learnt that travellers appreciate experiences with Locals just as much in small towns as they do in larger cities. In fact if there is a great offering in small town it actually becomes part of the draw to spend some time in that town.
Becky McCray says
Rebecca, thanks for sharing your experiences with this, as well as giving it a proper name.