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CALLING SMALL COMMUNITIES Under 1500 Population: Assess Your Tourism Potential

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The University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and the University of Minnesota Tourism Center are seeking five communities to participate in special tourism assessment project over the next 18 months. This project will help small communities across Minnesota discover opportunities to develop community assets for sustainable tourism. Why? Expanding regional assets can attract more visitors or keep them longer in your region.

Why should my community participate?

Communities participating in this project will gain a deeper understanding of their tourism potential and will discover ways to develop opportunities. The program will help community teams consider their tourism potential from several perspectives - from tourism experts, visitors and self-assessment. Using this information, communities can develop these opportunities and create action steps to move forward.

Does my community qualify?

Non-metro communities or townships in Minnesota with a population under 1500 or a group of 2-3 small communities (each under 1500) may apply. Groups of communities must be in geographic proximity with a shared sense of place; and be willing to or have experience working together.

Download the application today!

Applications are due by May 15, 2013.

Communities that do not qualify for this special project can still consider conducting a Tourism Assessment Program. Learn more

What is a Tourism Assessment?

This project uses the Tourism Assessment Program (TAP) to guide communities through a process using inventories, data analysis, expert consultation, and community discussions. Through these efforts, communities identify and assess their local assets. The program also helps communities consider several dimensions of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social.

The TAP program provides:

  • A community inventory for identifying and assessing local tourism assets
  • A community visit and on-site consultation with a team of tourism experts
  • A facilitated community meeting to solicit ideas and input from residents related to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) for local tourism
  • An opportunity for the community team to visit another community in the project
  • A report with analysis, observations, and recommendations to address identified tourism opportunities in a sustainable manner, and
  • Comprehensive evaluation of the program outcomes and impact.

What is expected of my community?

  1. Prior to applying, assemble a Community Leadership Team representing a cross-section of the community which will be responsible for implementation of the program and for communicating with the rest of the community.
  2. Complete and submit the 2 page application by May 15, 2013 to your Regional Sustainable Development Partnership office. (see last page)
  3. 3) If your community is selected for participation:
    1. Prepare information regarding current tourism, assets and resources in the community.
    2. Gather background materials including any previous studies, reports or strategic plans.
    3. Prepare for 1-2 day site visit by the Tourism Expert Team, including arranging logistics, inviting residents to participate in the community meeting, and setting everything up with community participants. The community is responsible for providing these logistics as in-kind contribution to the program.
    4. Keep community informed and engaged.
  4. What is the timeline?

    April - May 2013
    Recruit and select communities to participate.
    June 2013
    First meeting with community leadership team to conduct training and launch project. Dates established for community work and visits.
    June - August 2013
    Local team completes community inventories and assessments completed, secondary data collected.
    July - September 2013
    Local team visits another community in project.
    August - October 2013
    Tourism expert team visits community, facilitates conversation with community.
    October - January 2013
    Reports drafted, reviewed.
    January - February 2014
    Report presented to community.
    January - April 2014
    Extension Educator facilitated action planning with community using report findings/recommendations.
    April - December 2014
    Community implements action plans. Partnership and Extension will provide suggestions and ideas for finding resources.
    October 2014
    Statewide Celebration with participating communities, facilitators and project funders.
    November - December 2014
    REM Evaluation of program conducted by Extension with each community

    This statewide project is a collaboration of the University of Minnesota Tourism Center, University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, and University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality.

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