How Your Small Town Can Make a Big Splash
By Rebecca Christoforidis
Published September 26, 2023
At a time when people are looking for connection and authenticity, your small town has the potential to become a tourist magnet. Sure, large cities often dominate the tourism industry, but there's something undeniably appealing about discovering the unexplored charms of a smaller corner of the world.
Here are a few strategies to help your small town make a big splash with tourists.
Culture and History
Instead of trying to compete with the attractions of larger cities, focus on what makes your town special. Most small towns have rich and unique traditions; festivals that mark the change of the seasons or cultural events that are tied to their history. Hosting special events and festivals throughout the year can be a major draw for tourists. These events can celebrate the town's culture, history, or a specific theme that aligns with its identity. Popular festivals can become annual traditions, attracting repeat visitors and word-of-mouth promotion.
Many small towns also boast one-of-a-kind landmarks. Take advantage of those unique features to draw visitors to your community.
Infrastructure and Amenities
Tourists expect a certain level of comfort when travelling (unless the trip is specifically built around roughing it). To entice them to your small town, you must have the necessary infrastructure and amenities.
This includes well-maintained roads, public transportation, lodging options (such as boutique hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, or vacation rentals), and dining establishments that showcase local products and cuisine.
Outdoor Activities and Natural Beauty
Location can make a huge difference when it comes to choosing a vacations spot. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by nature’s beauty, take advantage of that good fortune. Many travelers are looking for good hiking trails, scenic lakes, great fishing places or abundant wildlife. Develop and promote these attractions with signage, guided tours, and outdoor events like hiking challenges or nature photography workshops. You can even ensure a return visit, by running a photography contest via social media and rewarding the winner with a complimentary stay.
Partnering with Local Businesses
The business community in small towns is often very tight knit. Partnering with local shops, restaurants, and artisans to create appealing vacation packages or themed experiences is a great way to attract tourists to your community. This can include "Shop Local" tours, culinary trails, or workshops where visitors can learn traditional crafts from local artisans.
If you don’t market your town, how will anyone know about all the great things you have to offer?
Effective marketing is crucial for attracting tourists. Having your town listed in a travel guide is insufficient. You need a strong online presence through a well-designed website and active social media accounts. Put your town front and center by sharing captivating stories, images, and videos that showcase your unique character and attractions. Consider running targeted online advertising campaigns to reach potential visitors.
Sustainability is an increasingly important concern for many, including your potential visitors. By
showcasing your town's commitment to eco-friendly practices and responsible tourism, you can appeal to a niche audience of environmentally conscious tourists. Implement recycling programs, reduce single-use plastics, and promote local businesses that prioritize sustainability.
A welcoming and friendly community can leave a lasting impression on tourists. Your residents are your best ambassadors. By providing exceptional customer service and fostering a sense of pride in their community, they create a place that is attractive to visitors. This in turn, can lead to positive word-of-mouth and greatly boost tourism.
Technology can be a great ally in your quest to attract tourists. You can create a mobile app or interactive maps that help tourists navigate your town and discover its hidden gems. You could also share live updates about events, weather, and local tips on social media to boost engagement and amplify interest in your community.
Small towns possess their own unique appeal. That’s what makes them so attractive to many tourists. By implementing an effective marketing campaign, investing in infrastructure, and working with the community, they can give the big city a run for its money when it comes to tourist dollars. With dedication and a willingness to think outside the box, even the smallest of towns can make a big impression on the tourism map.