Prepare, Protect and Manage
As you take this step, look to the
future as well as the present. When you prepare for visitors,
be sure that the choices you
make also improve your community for the long term. Plan
to win the war, not just the battle.
Preparing for visitors means readying your historic resources
by preserving their historical integrity, constructing new
museums, and generally cleaning up your community—but
it is also the time to figure out how you are going to tell
your story and make your community hospitable to visitors.
Remember that good interpretation is vital.
What exactly does interpretation mean? It means making your community’s
history, culture, or scenery emotionally accessible to visitors.
visitors in experiences they understand, learn from and respond
to emotionally use these materials to interpret your resources:
- Living history
As you make your heritage resources emotionally accessible,
make them physically accessible, too.
- Keep attractions open at
convenient times. Remember tourists travel seven days a
week, not just on weekdays. Hours of operation
need to reflect the times visitors are in your community.
entryways, signs, maps and information centers to help visitors
find their way around your region.
- Make sure sites meet the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility requirements.
Remember that visitors take home memories. Much of the pleasure
of a trip comes from how well visitors are treated. A short-tempered
ticket agent, an uninformed guide, a rude bus driver—most
travelers have had an unfortunate experience with someone like
this, and it can be the experience they remember longest. The
travel industry depends on many different people doing different
jobs, so the challenge is to build community pride and understanding
of the visitor’s needs.
To build a strong tourism employee base, try an approach that
has produced good results elsewhere: hospitality training. The
goal of hospitality training is to teach participants how to
welcome visitors and to encourage a better understanding of the
area and cultural heritage tourism. Visitors are likely to meet
front line staff, and often these entry level positions turn
over quickly—so it’s important to schedule hospitality
training on a regular basis.
To ensure that your cultural heritage
tourism resources have a long and productive life, you need to
protect them. How?
Developing a comprehensive preservation plan can provide overall
guidance to help protect your historic structures. Other regulatory
and planning mechanisms include:
- Seeking the designation of
historic resources (be sure to determine which designations
bring restrictions and which do not)
- Using zoning to specify
land uses and restrictions on the
density of development near sensitive historic sites
design review ordinances that establish design guidelines
so that renovations and new buildings
will be compatible
with neighboring historic structures and a design review
board to administer the guidelines.
- Providing design assistance
to people interested in rehabilitating their property
demolition review so that property owners cannot abruptly
tear down buildings that have historic
- Developing a sign ordinance that regulates
such matters as size, materials, illumination and placement
Be sure that your museum collections are stored or exhibited
in protected environments. Remember that collection items can
be fragile. Sunlight, temperature changes, humidity and even
just handling the items can have a negative impact over time.
Some of your contemporary cultural resources can be protected
as well. For example, if you are promoting an artists district,
consider what you can to keep the district affordable and appealing
for the artists you have—and artists who may become part
of the district in the future.
Preparing, protecting and managing heritage resources is a big
job, one that involves not only producing tangible improvements
to places and structures but also coordinating multiple activities
and maintaining momentum on numerous projects simultaneously.
To keep the job reasonable and feasible, develop a management
If your assessment of visitor services has revealed major omissions
or difficulties, include remedies in the management plan. Plan
to improve roads, public facilities, police and fire protection,
and other aspects of the infrastructure that affect—and
are affected by—tourism.
A well-managed cultural heritage tourism program is one that
balances competing considerations. Balancing the “carrying
capacity” of your area—its ability to host visitors
without compromising service or overstraining resources—with
the demands visitors make on it is one particularly important
consideration. Why? Runaway “success” can destroy
the very resources on which heritage tourism depends.
Say a summer festival begins to draw so many visitors to your
revitalized “Main Street” that the roads into town
clog with traffic, overwhelmed vendors start importing mass-produced
quilts from China, and the city council paves a huge new parking
lot for 3,000 cars at the expense of green space or a historic
building. Danger! You’re on the verge of killing the goose
that lays the golden egg.
Organizational management includes monitoring change and adjusting
your program—or your personnel—to meet your objectives.
Incorporate ways to monitor and measure progress into your plan.
Build in systems of measurement from the beginning—ways
to count numbers of visitors, for example, or to measure the
economic impact of the money they spend—so you’ll
know where you have made progress (and where problems may be
brewing). You’ll also be able to demonstrate accomplishments
to hard-working committee members and interested donors.
Ways to Improve Community Appearance
- Protect entryways and roads that have outstanding scenic
or historic importance.
- Protect scenic vistas: bury utility wires, screen unsightly
- Protect trees and landscape character: plant street
trees, landscape parking lots.
- Prohibit billboards.
- Limit the size, height, and number of other outdoor
- Encourage tourist support facilities—hotels,
motels, restaurants and shops—to locate in historic
buildings or to build new structures that are architecturally
compatible with the community but not imitative of your
town’s authentic historic buildings.
(From “Community Appearance and Tourism: What’s the Link” by
National Trust for Historic Preservation ®
Next: Step 4 >>
Return to the