Do you think your community is awesome? Do you want to share your community’s assets and special qualities with visitors? Do you want to diversify your local economy through tourism? Are you concerned with the negative impacts that tourism might bring? Then developing a tourism master plan linked to your broader community goals may be what your community needs.
A tourism master plan (TMP) is a long-range plan that identifies your community’s vision and goals for tourism, and strategies and specific actions to get there. A integrated TMP aligns your goals for tourism with broader community goals such as sustainability, economic diversification, and community development. It should ideally be developed collaboratively involving the municipality, citizens, the tourism agency or chamber of commerce, tourism service providers, and related community groups (e.g. trails association). This strategic and proactive approach will go a long way in helping your community develop its tourism potential.
Case Study: Tofino Tourism Master Plan
The District of Tofino is situated at the northern tip of the Esowista Peninsula and is within the Clayoquot Sound region – one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in North America. Clayoquot Sound (a United Nations designated Biosphere Reserve) is the largest area of ancient temperate rainforest left on Vancouver Island Over the past several decades, Tofino has evolved from a fishing and logging economy into a predominantly tourism economy. Recognized world-wide, Tofino is already achieving many successes through tourism, but was looking for something to formally articulate what tourism means and what needs to be done for it to continue to support community goals. Therefore, the District of Tofino decided to develop a community based Tourism Master Plan, with partners and the community, to ensure long term success. The plan is supportive of the broad community goals as articulated in the Tofino Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (Vision to Action), and integrates relevant pieces of other community plans.
Tofino’s TMP was developed by the District of Tofino in partnership with Tourism Tofino, the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, resort partners as well as significant community input opportunities.
From Fall 2013 to Spring 2014, the Tofino Tourism Master Plan process was facilitated by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability through the following five steps:
Setting the stage: Project scoping, community surveys and in depth stakeholder interviews
• Assessing the current situation: Researching local and regional assets as well as relevant trends and visitor survey results.
• Articulating the tourism vision: Placing tourism in the context of community goals and articulating what was heard during the engagement sessions
• Developing the plan: Identifying tourism goals, strategic directions based on the current context as well as actions over three time frames.
• Building in implementation: Developing a monitoring and evaluation program as well as governance structure and roles for ongoing implementation.
• 9 Working Group meetings
• 3 stakeholder presentations – Tourism Tofino, Parks Canada, District of Tofino
• 12 interviews – tourism sector
• 200+ resident surveys
• 3 tourism sector specific presentations
• 4 Open houses
• Website with video links to all presentations
• Chamber Breakfast Meetings
• Tourism Tofino Board Presentation
After a better understanding of how the local community views tourism we decided to structure the master plan goals in a manner that reflects how tourism supports community outcomes and these outcomes support the capacity to deliver tourism experiences. Armed with this mindset, it was easier to see how affordable housing supports tourism, how tourism can help broaden the communities economic base and how partnerships and local capacity is required for tourism to thrive.
The final goals in combination with the situational analysis provided the basis for selecting 3-5 year strategic directions which ultimately identified the most relevant actions to undertake during the next three years.
For more information about how a TMP can be developed for your community, contact Dan Wilson or 604.966.4457.