Getting local communities involved in tourism

In partnership with RDÉE Canada and the Chaire de tourism Transat de l’ESG UQAM, this initiative is designed to share essential information to support the development of the tourism industry within Canada’s Official Language Minority Communities.

Analysis document

Local organizations are increasingly turning to residents for help in welcoming visitors and promoting and developing tourism.

Faced with a growing demand from travellers for “local” experiences, destination management organizations (DMOs) are increasingly getting locals involved in tourism-related activities. But, while more and more DMOs are making this shift, many are still unclear on how exactly to reach their desired market.

The Mission des Offices de tourisme de la Nouvelle-Aquitaine (or MONA), a French tourism association that has created a network of DMOs, has put together a toolkit and is organizing training sessions that make it easier to set up projects aimed at helping boost tourism in local communities.

Listed below are a few of the best practices discussed in the toolkit – available by mid-December – that meet specific MONA objectives, and others that were selected by the Tourism Intelligence Network.

Source: © Brive Tourisme / @feedebeauxreves et @monsieurpop

Tell residents what their local tourism organization can do for them

The Office de Tourisme de l’Ouest Var has a section on its website that specifically addresses local residents. In addition to providing ideas for day trips and outings, the page lists potentially useful services such as: a ticket office with three outlets, places to hold wedding receptions or children’s birthday parties, and much more. Visitors to the website can also download brochures on various tourism-related topics.

In 2014, ONLYLYON Tourism and Conventions launched a marketing campaign with posters telling locals about their role in the tourism industry and providing them with a list of useful addresses intended for residents and visitors alike.

Make visitors to the area feel more welcome

Tourisme Mont-Tremblant, the municipality itself, the local Chamber of Commerce and a number of tourism stakeholders have come together to create the CRÉER training program. The goal of the program is to improve the visitor experience of people coming to the area. Since January 2017, the joint initiative has helped 625 employees and managers learn more about the destination and unite them around a common vision, thereby turning them into local ambassadors.

It is fairly common for tourist information centres in the U.S. to be staffed year-round by volunteers, many of whom are retirees. But a few recent volunteer initiatives stand out from the crowd. One of them is the online volunteer site launched by the non-profit convention and visitors’ bureau in Cleveland, Ohio.

Source: PCMA Convene

Other networks of local volunteers, such as the Greeterstourist , in France, give tourists the opportunity to go on a personalized guided tour of the city, have a coffee or a meal, etc. – all accompanied by a local. More and more DMOs, such as the Tourist Office in Mulhouse, France, are seeing the advantages of getting involved in and promoting this trend.

Get area residents to sample local tourist attractions…

… so they can pass on tourist information and promote them

Dunkerque‘s Tourism and Convention Bureau, Dunes de Flandre, has created a Tourism Ambassador’s Club (Club ambassadeur tourisme) for area residents eager to share their passion for their city. The club now has 900 ambassadors who receive newsletters, invitations to visit local attractions, and discounts. In return, they spread the word about local landmarks.

Similarly, the Banff & Lake Louise Ambassador Program provides local residents and workers with a free information session and an interpretive sightseeing tour of some of Banff National Park’s most iconic places. The goal is to enable the ambassadors to pass on their knowledge and love of Banff – Lake Louise to their guests, and to the tourists who visit the park. Program participants are eligible to receive an Ambassador Pass valued at over $500, to encourage them to learn more about the park’s natural wonders and history by exploring the area on their own.

Turn residents into promotors…

… and develop a sense of local belonging

When the Brive Tourist Office decided to design a marketing campaign for the city, it looked to the city’s identity and created the catchphrase Brive 100% Gaillarde, and the slogan “Réveillez le gaillard qui est en vous” (Get in touch with your inner “tough guy”). The message is splashed across social networks thanks to a new Facebook page and the hashtag #tousgaillards. The goal of the campaign is to get as many area residents as possible on board and turn them into local ambassadors. One way of accomplishing this is to get community members to take photos of themselves in international destinations wearing T-shirts with the city’s slogan, and share the photos on social media.

Source: Brive Tourisme

Residents help expand and diversify tourist services

Every year, the small town of Clisson welcomes around 150,000 people to the Hellfest Music Festival. Organizers have set up a free online accommodation page where residents can post an ad to rent a room, house, apartment or campsite. The site is non-transactional, but those who wish to do so can download a contract. Thanks to this service, festival-goers have a wider range of accommodation options to choose from.

The West Sweden Tourist Board’s Meet the Locals website is both a way for visitors to meet local residents and participate in the local sharing economy. Residents who wish to offer their services post a brief text in which they talk about their interests and the type of experience they want to share. Visitors who want to meet a resident must complete a short form describing themselves. The West Sweden Tourist Board passes the information on to the resident so that he or she can get in touch with the visitor. After that, the Tourist Board has done its job, and the rest is left up to the people involved.

Source: West Sweden

The Picardie region has also figured out a way to get the region’s inhabitants excited about the Esprit-Hauts-de-France experiences. Part of the strategy is to get residents to talk about their memorable local experiences, give advice, and share the best places to stay, eat, visit, etc. The campaign website also suggests activities, accommodation, guided tours, and more.

Getting residents involved in local tourist initiatives

Tourism Eastern Townships, the region’s RTA, has created the Designated Village Centre (Cœurs Villageois) designation to create a strong sense of identity among its towns and villages and make them more appealing to tourists. In order to receive the Village Center designation, each place must get its residents on board as locals play an important role in welcoming visitors. In fact, citizen involvement and volunteerism are prerequisites for receiving the designation, especially in the cultural sector. The RTA hopes that each visitor will be greeted in one way or another, and that it not just be tourism industry players, but the entire local population, that extends the welcome.

These initiatives are making residents aware that they have a role to play in the tourist ecosystem. Local tourist associations enable residents to have an impact on the destination’s appeal and this, in turn, directly affects their quality of life. Basically, it’s a win-win situation!


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