New Report on Declining Historic Site Visits

Bad news is never welcome. Opening my inbox to read about a new report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences' Humanities Indicators (HI) project on declining visitation to historic sites was indeed disappointing, but not unexpected. The report, citing visitation from 1979 to 2012, found that "with each birth cohort Americans of all ages have been less likely to visit historic sites." The report also shared that "as people aged they were less likely to visit a historic site." Not an optimistic picture for destinations and organizations wanting to use historic sites to attract visitors and their spending. The project report uses data from the National Endowment for the Arts' Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (1982, 1992, 2002, 2008, 2012). AASLH President John Dichtl observed in his blog post "the lack of reliable data on total visitation for U.S. historic ... [Read More]

Commerce + Interpretation: A Shared-Use Study from the National Trust

At the recent AASLH Annual Conference in Louisville, a panel discussed the opportunities and challenges of including for-profit operations at historic sites. While public-private partnerships have been successful at numerous locations around the country, the National Trust is providing a transparent look into the process for managing a historic site  with a section operated by a commercial partner. Cooper-Molera in Monterey, which includes nine roofed structures, will dedicate the original adobe buildings as interpreted spaces while a developer (Foothill Partners) uses a socially responsible business plan to operate the other buildings as commercial retail and restaurant. Key lessons learned from this collaboration: community engagement and involvement in the discussion for final use is essential; sorting out the legal structure and terms of agreement is also imperative. This $6.5 ... [Read More]

Book on Cultural & Heritage Tourism

I've signed a contract with Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group to write a book on Cultural & Heritage Tourism. The "how to" manual is part of the AASLH book series, with a tentative publication date of early 2017. What would you like to see included in this publication? What questions should be asked and answered? Also, do you have a "best practice" to share? I want to include examples from across the country on how destinations have focused on their history and culture to offer distinctive, authentic experiences. I'll post updates throughout the manuscript creation process. ... [Read More]

Cultural Heritage Tourism featured in February 28 NBC News article

The New York Times Travel Show is a great platform for introducing new products and programs. Certainly one of the most distinctive tours launching at the show this weekend is Breaking Bread Journeys, a collaboration between two women - Palestinian and Jewish - to share cultural, culinary and historic experiences as a way to foster understanding and peace. What a noble, important venture - and demonstration of the healing power of travel. To learn more about this tour program, read this exceptional article by Tanya Mohn: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/travel/new-tourism-venture-promotes-peace-holy-land-n40681 ... [Read More]

Creative Inspiration in DC

DC's Heritage Trails, a project of Cultural Tourism DC, recently inspired a local artist. See how images from the Neighborhood Trail guides influenced Dana Ellyn to create a new series of paintings last October. Happy to report that many of the paintings have sold! I had the privilege of working this organization with its strategic plan and then serving on their board when I was based in DC full time. I know what an important and visible program the Heritage Trails are to the local neighborhoods. Sure, the markers instilled a sense of pride in residents by showcasing their architectural and social history to visitors, but also as an educational instrument for interpreting "past to present" AND increasing local economic impact through heritage tourism. Dana's work has added a new creative dimension to the powerful impact of these trail markers. Kudos to this local artist for giving a ... [Read More]

Expanding African American Heritage Tourism in the U.S.

Black History month provides a great opportunity to raise awareness about African American heritage and U.S. destinations with important stories to tell. Natchez, Mississippi is one of these places. Recent research conducted by colleague Berkeley Young for the Natchez CVB reports that visitors to Natchez value heritage experiences. Sunday's article in the Natchez Democrat reflects on Young' research, my own observations and recommendations, as well as commentary by local leaders on how Natchez can enhance its heritage tourism experiences and educate travelers about the contributions of African Americans to the building, growth and sustainability of this Southern city. As Natchez prepares to celebrate its 300th anniversary, expanding heritage tourism to include stories relevant to the past and present (including its African American heritage) is a great economic development and education ... [Read More]

Recognizing Excellence in Preservation & Conservation

As co-chair of the Society of American Travel Writers' (SATW) Phoenix Awards, I have the privilege of reviewing and recommending outstanding examples of conservation and preservation each year. With the growth in tourism, the Phoenix Awards demonstrate the importance of history, culture, and natural assets to visitor experiences but also to defining distinctive destinations. Past winners include Thomas Edison's home and studio as well as Charleston's City Market. The 2013 recipients – announced at the SATW Annual Convention held in Biloxi, Mississippi October 20-25 – represent global demonstrations of preservation and conservation excellence. AMC Maine Wilderness Lodges (Maine)  The non-profit Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has a 137-year history of important sustainable nature-based tourism practices, investing more than $52 million in resource conservation and recreation management ... [Read More]

Cultural Heritage Tourism Exchange 2014

Networking Forum ~ Idea Exchange ~ Partnerships April 24 - 25, 2014   Washington, DC Hosted by Partners in Tourism, this 1.5 day forum is designed to offer optimum networking for cultural heritage tourism practitioners, to foster partnerships among constituents, identify ways to collaborate and enhance growth in cultural heritage tourism in the U.S.  Building on the 2011 and 2012 Exchanges, the 2014 program will include updates on the National Travel & Tourism Strategy, Brand USA and other federal/national activities impacting cultural heritage tourism. An outcome of the Exchange is to identify one issue or program for action by Partners in Tourism.    Register now to attend the CHT Exchange and help shape the future of cultural heritage tourism in the U.S. ... [Read More]