A good way for communities to showcase their distinctive cultural and linguistic features is to create tourist routes that link them together, thereby boosting economic development. Read on to learn about some inspiring examples for small communities.
Tourism route – Success factors
In their policy on tourist route signage, Québec’s Ministry of Tourism and its Ministry of Transport define tourist routes as “picturesque trails with a distinct theme linking tourist sites that are both meaningful and open to visitors, a variety of related services, such as accommodation, places to eat and gas stations, as well as visitor services and tourist information.” Tourist routes enable visitors to connect with the region’s cultural, historic or natural heritage, and provide a link between the various sites along the way. They are also often used as a way to organize a given region’s attractions into a consistent marketing campaign.
To succeed in the highly competitive world of tourism, the route must possess the following features:
- a strong and coherent theme, in line with trends and client expectations;
- a critical mass of businesses and attractions offering products of similar quality;
- complementary tourist services and infrastructure;
- a clear, common vision among all stakeholders regarding the projected image;
- the mobilization and long-term cooperation of the private and public actors and associations involved;
- top-notch marketing tools;
- effective signage.
Inspiring tourist routes that focus on linguistic and cultural heritage
Two routes that promote the Castilian language (gras)
One of the ways Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport has chosen to promote Castilian culture is to create the Route of the Spanish Language. This is a cultural itinerary that highlights the language, with stops at historic monuments, cities and the homes of famous Castilian authors. It also includes visits to important Spanish heritage sites that have a strong connection to the emergence and/or development of the Castilian language in Spain.
Source : spain.info
The Route of the Monasteries that wends through the Najerilla River valley and the surrounding area of La Rioja takes visitors to a variety of buildings that date back the Middle Ages and were crucial to the birth and development of Castilian Spanish and to the transmission of knowledge. Also, many of them are located in areas of great beauty and ecological value.
Both of these routes are featured on Tourism Spain’s official website, but the Route of the Spanish Language has its own website where visitors can take a virtual tour of an exhibition of Route highlights, or check out different route-themed packages. The Route also has a guide that can be downloaded to smartphones for free using a QR code (see photo).
Source : Camino de la Lengua Castellana
In Champlain’s footsteps, an Ontario tourist trail
Direction Ontario created the Champlain Trail in 2004. It follows the route taken by Samuel de Champlain himself in 1615, and is intended as a tribute to the explorers who travelled the Ontario waterways. It is also an acknowledgement of the English, French and Northeastern Ontario First Nations’ presence in a vast area of between 1,500 and 2,000 km. The purpose of the trail is to highlight the region’s historic, cultural and natural wealth for visitors, but also to bring together the French, English and First Nations communities.
Tracking Walloon in Outremeuse
Visitors interested in the Walloon language can go on a loop that takes them to 24 cultural and linguistic attractions in the Outremeuse neighbourhood of Liège, Belgium. They can download the free app or QR code to their smartphones, or follow it using a GPS. A printable version of the guide can also be downloaded.
Source : Tourisme Wallonie
Gaelic Trails promote Gaelic language and culture
In 2008, Scotland set up the Gaelic Rings, six Gaelic round trips that wind through the Hebrides and the country’s western mainland and include several ferry rides. The goal of creating these trips is to promote the unique character of Gaelic language and culture, to emphasize the crucial role they played in Scottish history and their continued relevance today. Each Ring has its own history, landmarks and legends to share. A dedicated website gives an overview of the trips, links to travel information and a separate section, called Gaelic Journeys, with personal travelogues by well-known Scottish figures, all of which can be downloaded and printed.
Seeking ancestral footprints
The Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism website lists about thirty visually stunning tourist routes, such as the French Ancestors Route (125 km) and the Irish Loop (312 km). Many places along the former route have kept their French names, and the traditions, lifestyle and heritage of those early settlers still dominate that small pocket of French-speaking communities. The descendants of the Irish families who settled there in the 19th century are still farming the rolling green hills around St. John’s.
The VisitScotland website has a section called Ancestry Itineraries, designed to help visitors explore their Scottish roots and learn more about their clan history on 3-day (or more) historic tours that stop at castles, museums and battle sites across the country.
Source : Visit Scotland
Finally, the idea of creating a language-themed tourist trail to boost the economies of the French-language minority across Canada is in the planning stages with the Ministers responsible for La Francophonie in all of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories. Hopefully, it will soon make its way from the drawing board to reality!
- Dufault, François Pierre. «Le tourisme dans le viseur de la francophonie canadienne », tfo.org, 18 juin 2015.
- Joly, Andréanne. « L’ABC du circuit touristique Champlain, en Ontario», northernontario.travel, page consultée le 11 novembre 2015.
- Ministry of Tourism et ministère des Transports du Québec. « Politique de signalisation touristique – Routes et circuits touristiques», tourisme.gouv.qc.ca, 2006.