30 and Still Relevant

In 1989 I had the great privilege of working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation on a new initiative to study the relationship between preservation and promotion. That initiative led to a heritage tourism movement that has lasted three decades, in part to five principles guiding asset-based economic development. These five principles continue to serve as a roadmap for appropriate and sustainable growth of heritage tourism, whether focusing on historic, cultural, or natural assets. As we approach a new year, consider these principles when developing or marketing your destination. They will ensure the distinctive “personality of place” is maintained for current and future generations of travelers and residents. Focus on Authenticity and Quality In the late 80s, authenticity was not as common a word as perhaps it is today. However, the intent is the same: focusing on ... [Read More]

Guest Lecture at University of Mary Washington

What a pleasure and honor to be selected by students of the Historic Preservation Department for their annual guest lecture. A great chance to meet talented young preservationists and share information on cultural heritage tourism last Thursday, April 19. Dinner with faculty and students afterwards was delightful! (Photo left to right: Amy Bonnevier, Carolyn Currin, Gracie Hardy, me, Sasha Erpenbach, Lily Eghtessad, and Ilana Bleich.) ... [Read More]

Trailing of the Sheep Festival Recognized

Every year members of the Society of American Travel Writers nominate worthy candidates for the Phoenix Award recognizing "individuals, communities, or organizations that have contributed to a quality travel experience through conservation, preservation, beautification or environmental efforts". ... [Read More]

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]

The Importance of Well-defined Outcomes

Too often plans include lofty goals and compelling visions, yet lack well-defined outcomes. Understanding what success looks like helps bring about consensus, inform the appropriate business/ implementation model and also instruct the best way to measure impact. A session at the 2015 AASLH Annual Conference in Louisville featured the Golden Historical Society and the planning process used to revive the Astor House into the National Museum of the American Boardinghouse - telling the little known story of a lodging sector. Facing declining attendance, the Historical Society conducted prototyping to determine possibilities for the National Register property before inviting the community to weigh in on ideas. The outcome: a 100% hands-on facility with program designed to increase repeat visitation. This is a museum worth visiting! ... [Read More]

Cultural Heritage Tourism Book

Every place has a story to tell, often found in historic sites or cultural traditions of the people who settled or currently live in a community, city, region or state. When these stories and places are shared with visitors, this activity becomes what is known as cultural heritage tourism. Success and sustainability in this growing industry segment requires careful planning and adequate resources. Cultural Heritage Tourism: Five Steps for Success and Sustainability provides detailed instruction through a proven five-step process to help planners, managers and community leaders attract visitors and their spending to your cultural heritage site, attraction, event or destination. Learn how to assess, plan for, develop, market, fund, manage, and measure cultural heritage for growth and sustainability. Refer to the best practices and case studies from across the country as examples for ... [Read More]

Cheryl Hargrove

Cheryl Hargrove is President of Hargrove International, Inc. With an emphasis on arts, culture and heritage tourism, Cheryl has worked with a diverse collection of clients over the last three decades. Cheryl utilizes her international network and broad industry experience to offer clients added value and access. A native Georgian, Cheryl has consulted on cultural heritage tourism projects in all 50 states and more than 10 countries. Author of Cultural Heritage Tourism: Five Steps for Success and Sustainability (Rowman & Littlefield, May 2017), Hargrove is frequently asked to speak on trends and best practices in cultural heritage tourism, as well as guest lecture at various conferences and classes. A recent contractor as Associate Director for National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations, Cheryl is perhaps best known as the first Director of Heritage Tourism ... [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]