Plan and Organize
Make good use of human and financial
resources. They are the keys that open the doors to sustainable
cultural heritage tourism.
A community united can accomplish a lot;
a community divided is not ready for cultural heritage tourism.
So, begin to organize
by building a local consensus that supports cultural heritage
- Gain the support of local business people—of
bankers, people in the travel industry, owners of restaurants
operators of hotels and motels, for example. You need their
expertise and enthusiasm. In fact, bring in all the movers
you can—prominent families involved in the community,
religious leaders, and other individuals who have influence
- Unite local government behind your efforts.
From local government can come leadership, the establishment
of arts and entertainment
districts, preservation ordinances, design review boards,
landmarks commissions and so forth.
- Seek the backing of
service organizations with strong membership bases and good
track records on community projects.
Once you have solid community support, it’s time to organize.
There are nearly as many ways to organize as there are organizations.
Also, as your cultural heritage tourism program grows, you’ll
need to reorganize, maybe more than once.
As you organize locally, reach out to organizations and people
elsewhere who can supply additional expertise and resources.
Make recruiting and developing leaders a key part of organizational
management. Whether your heritage tourism program has paid staff
or depends on volunteers, you need to bring along leaders who
can stimulate the growth of the program and expand its opportunities.
When you reach out to tap new resources, consider:
- Various state
and national organizations, some public and some private,
are good general sources of information about organizational
development, tourism, preservation, the arts and other
specialized topics. Many offer technical expertise in these
- Regional sources offer different kinds
of assistance. Regions can be as large as several states
or as small as
counties within a state.
After you have established an organization—or committee
of an existing organization— you can create a cultural
heritage tourism mission, define goals and lay out specific objectives.
Be sure to set reasonable timelines. The tendency is to underestimate
how long it takes to organize a cultural heritage tourism effort,
develop and enhance tourist attractions, achieve financial viability
and reach new markets. Be realistic about time—and funding.
The question of how to finance a cultural heritage tourism initiative
has no easy answer, alas, and no single answer. Your goal is
long-term, stable funding. Your chances of reaching it improve
if you have built a strong local consensus, for then the problem
of funding becomes one many people help solve.
Before you look for funding, draw up a financial plan. You need
to know just how much money you’ll need for which projects,
and when. Potential backers want to know exactly what they are
supporting and how their contributions fit into your organization’s
A good financial plan takes both hard and soft costs into account.
costs, such as the cost of restoring a historic building,
are the most obvious and easiest to estimate.
- Just as important
are the soft—but real—costs
of staffing your organization, of interpreting and maintaining
sites, and of marketing.
Where can you look for funding? Here are some possibilities
to explore: public funds, both grants and loans, available from
federal, state and local governments; private establishments
including corporations, foundations and nonprofit organizations,
individuals for memberships, specific grants and endowments.
Hold fundraising drives, assess membership dues, or arrange house
tours, art fairs or other special activities.
Your state may have funds for tourism, the arts, preservation,
or economic development for which your organization could qualify.
Foundations and corporations fund activities in their area of
interest. Listings can be found on the Internet or in your
Ways to Build Support
- Hold a town meeting
- Write guest editorials for local newspapers
- Send out surveys asking residents their opinions about
tourism, culture and heritage goals and report the results
to community leaders.
- Set up focus groups or a task force with representatives
from tourism, preservation, business, and other appropriate
groups to study services needed and to brainstorm heritage
- Bring national experts to speak to local organizers
about trends in cultural heritage tourism and economic
- Organize visits to OTHER towns or regions where local
leaders can see firsthand results.
- Bring speakers from other successful cultural heritage
tourism efforts who can explain how to get results
- Sit down one-on-one with community leaders to educate
them and gain their support for cultural heritage tourism.
- Develop an audiovisual or PowerPoint
presentation about your area’s goals for cultural heritage tourism
and set up a speakers’ bureau.
National Trust for Historic Preservation ®
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