Tourism can generate revenue for a small community and the businesses that reside within it. For the local government, overnight stays at hotels and motels generates a transient occupancy tax that goes to the general fund and provides discretionary money available to the community's elected or hired leaders. Communities that already have a tourism base during a specific season because of local attractions such as a national or state parks, museums, fishing areas, campsites or other interesting features may want to develop programs that generate visits during the offseason to increase revenue for local businesses.
Small towns, cities or businesses along a known tourism path can attract visitors to the area with specific promotions, as long as the area has the infrastructure -- hotels, motels, bed and breakfast rooms and restaurants -- to support the visitors.
The idea behind tourism promotion is to make your business or community a destination, not just a pass-through along the way. For example, if your area is near a local attraction that doesn't have hotel rooms, partner with a local bus agency to offer a bus trip and a hotel deal as part of a package you offer tourists.
Create a search-engine optimized website that includes local attractions, specific events and package deals,. You also can generate a digital tourism guide, and a printed version you can send out upon request. Include enough specific information to help people make a decision.
Don't be afraid to include pricing on business websites; give people what they are looking for so that they can book their travel plans. Businesses that don't include the decision-making information on their website can lose potential visitors. On the other hand, an online reservation service can increase visitors by providing them an opportunity to commit to the trip.
Local hotels and motels can put together weekend deals. Package deals should offer a hotel stay discount and include another attractive offer. For instance, a romantic getaway package for two could include a discounted two-night stay, a chilled bottle of champagne and flowers in the room, and a complimentary massage from a local spa for the couple. Another package could include specialty meals at a local award-winning restaurant or visits to the local winery, brewery or museums; the deal you put together all depends on the local attractions your area has to offer. Bed and breakfast facilities can put together the same kind of promotion when partnering with local businesses.
A local event, held annually over a weekend or for a longer stretch, can bring visitors to your town in droves. Event promotions are specifically good during the offseason as a means to generate extra tourism dollars. Some of the events you can put on-- as long as you have the infrastructure to support them -- include:
- Music festivals
- Storytelling festivals
- Art festivals
- Wine and beer festivals
- Specialty conventions
- Custom car shows
The depth of your imagination is your only limitation when coming up with an event that you can promote. The best way to come up with an event to draw visitors to your area, is to research the successful efforts of local governments, chambers of commerce or tourism agencies across the nation. Once you find something that may be a fit for your area, contact the agency, which may be willing to share their information. Visit your state, city or county's local tourism agency or marketing website to find ways to partner with these agencies or get ideas on how to create effective tourism promotions. Be prepared to advertise or involve local businesses in your efforts.