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Partnering to Promote Heritage Tourism in Local Communities: Guidance for Federal AgenciesarrowWhy is the Federal Government Involved?: The Benefits of Heritage Tourism

Why is the Federal Government Involved?: The Benefits of Heritage Tourism

While travelers to historic places reap educational and recreational benefits, the communities being visited also profit from heritage tourism. Executive Order 13287 establishes that the Federal government will help communities to realize such benefits.

Economic Benefits. Heritage tourism can be a powerful economic development tool. Attracting visitors to a community is a good source of revenue and creates jobs. Capitalizing on heritage assets is particularly important, since numerous studies have shown that heritage tourists stay longer and spend more than other tourists. Focusing on heritage tourism can also help a community diversify its economy, which may previously have been dependent on one industry or economic sector.

Consider the following statistics:

Quality of Life Benefits. In addition to its economic benefits, heritage tourism can be an important agent in promoting community pride and enhancing quality of life. As communities focus on presenting their heritage assets to tourists, they gain increased appreciation for such resources. Reuse and revitalization of historic properties for visitor services protects important resources and helps to retain the community’s unique sense of place.

Benefits for Federal Land Managers. By helping communities, Federal land managers can also help themselves. Partnering with non-Federal parties to promote heritage tourism can build awareness of and appreciation for Federally owned historic properties. This, in turn, helps build constituencies to support agency stewardship efforts. Partnership efforts to promote heritage tourism can lead to new uses for Federally owned historic properties, collaborative interpretive efforts, increased volunteer participation, and greater leverage of financial and human resources.

While focused primarily on preservation partnerships rather than on heritage tourism per se, the Department of Defense publication Working Together: Achieving Cultural Resource Management Goals through Partnerships offers an excellent discussion of the potential benefits to Federal land-managers of public/private partnerships.

Updated March 3, 2006

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