Meet Cheryl Hargrove

Cheryl Hargrove, President

Author, instructor, and 35-year travel industry veteran, Hargrove is best known as the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s first Director of Heritage Tourism. During her tenure with the organization, Hargrove developed the key steps and principles for sustainable tourism focusing on history and culture. She recently worked with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Tourism Division, as Director of Industry & Partner Relations. Hargrove also served as Associate Director of National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations, assisting destinations in developing and marketing their place-based experiences.

Hargrove authored Cultural Heritage Tourism: Five Steps for Success and Sustainability (Rowman & Littlefield, May 2017) as part of the American Association for State & Local History book series. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide (by the National Association of Interpretation) and an associate member of the Society of American Travel Writers. Hargrove serves on the Coastal Georgia Historical Society Board of Directors and the Georgia Sea Grant Advisory Council. She holds a Master of Tourism Administration from The George Washington University and a Certificate for Tourism & International Cooperation for Development from the UNWTO Themis Foundation/The George Washington University. She is also a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism.

Her consultancy currently focuses on cultural heritage tourism assessment, planning, development and management, and nonprofit/tourism business sustainability. In the past decade, her firm has assisted more than 150 destinations, government agencies, and businesses, including work in every state in the U.S. and in 15 countries. Through USAID and the U.S. Department of State, she participated in international tourism leadership and training programs for cultural heritage tourism in Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia. She also consulted for over a decade with the US-China Arts Exchange, where she helped preserve, protect, and promote indigenous culture in Yunnan Province.

Hargrove is frequently asked to speak at conferences, including the World Heritage Forum in Copenhagen, the Canadian Museum Association, the China Leadership Summit, the Educational Travel Conference, the APEC Tourism Policy Forum, and numerous state and regional conferences. Since 2020, her company has managed the Appalachian Regional Commission’s READY Nonprofits online training program providing instruction for more than 200 organizations.

She lives on St. Simons Island with her husband, John Bauser, and five-year-old beagle, Tanner.

Presentations & Workshops

“The Role of Arts and Culture in Community Placemaking” – Appalachian Health Leadership Forum (April 28, 2023 – Stonewall Resort, West Virginia) organized by The Center for Rural Health Development

“Assets for Tourism-Based Economic Development” – Association County Commissioners of Georgia (April 27, 2023 – Savannah, Georgia) organized by Carl Vinson Institute of Government, UGA

“Cultural Tourism Trends: How to Responsibly and Collaboratively Tell Community Stories”  – Travel Unity Southeast Summit (March 29, 2023 – Lake Charles, Louisiana) organized by Travel Unity

“Tourism in Georgia: Concepts and Partnerships” + “Navigating through Any Crisis: Strategies & Steps” Cities United Summit (January 21, 2023 – Atlanta,  Georgia) organized by the Georgia Municipal Association

Appalachian Gateway Communities Initiative (October 27-29, 2023 – Lake Junaluska, North Carolina) hosted by The Conservation Fund, Appalachian Regional Commission, and National Endowment for the Arts

Clinch River Valley Strategic Plan PresentationWest Virginia Workshop

“Building Better Boards” – Appalachian Regional Commission COVID-19 Technical Assistance Program for Nonprofits (March 2021)

“Coastal Ecotourism: Challenges and Opportunities” – CARE (Coastal Awareness and Responsible Ecotourism) Certificate Course (March 2021)

“Heritage Tourism: More Relevant and Important Than Ever” – Arkansas Tourism Conference (March 2021)

“Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation: Local Planning & Development in Global Travel & Tourism” – Georgetown University, Washington DC (November 2020)

“Cultural Heritage Tourism: Overview, Trends, Issues and Opportunities for Sustainable Management and Growth” – Cape Breton University, Newfoundland (October 2020)

“Heritage Tourism: Making the Past Relevant to Current & Future High-Value Visitors”  – New Jersey Conference on Tourism – Atlantic City, New Jersey  (December 2019)

“Measuring Success” and “Role of Arts in Rural Economic Development” – Regional Appalachian Gateway Community Workshop organized by The Conservation Fund, Appalachian Regional Commission and National Endowment for the Arts – Bristol, Tennessee (November 2019)

“Outlook for Heritage Tourism – Overview, Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities for Sustainable Growth” – Marketing Outlook Forum – Bethesda, Maryland (October 2019) 

“The Necessary Reset: The Historic House Dilemma” – National Park Service Regional Conference – Jacksonville, Florida (September 2019) 

Project Financing & Fundraising” and “Measuring Success” – Advanced Gateway Conference (The Conservation Fund) – Shepherdstown, West Virginia (August 2019)

“Cultural Heritage Preservation as an Economic Development Strategy” (keynote) – Revitalization Revival: A Big Tent Approach to Preservation – Pulaski, Virginia (May 2019)

“Reframing the National Conversation in U.S. Cultural Heritage Tourism” (keynote) – Synergy Summit for Cultural & Heritage Tourism – Fort Lauderdale, Florida (May 2019)

“Best Practices in Rural Tourism” – Louisiana Rural Tourism Conference  (May 2019)

“Developing a Destination” – Balancing Nature & Commerce Workshop – Brandywine Valley, Delaware (April 2019)

State of Gateway Communities in America” –  National Summit for Gateway Communities – Shepherdstown, West Virginia (December 2018)

“Making Connections to Your Community & Beyond” – National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Department of Interior) Visitor Services Conference – Shepherdstown, West Virginia (November 2018)

“Developing and Marketing Visitor-Ready Experiences” – Louisiana Byways Workshop (July 2018)

“Role of Arts in Rural Economic Development and Cultural Heritage Tourism” – Webinar for The Conservation Fund (June 2017)

“Heritage Tourism in 21st Century America” (keynote) – 31st Annual Virginia Preservation Conference – Charlottesville, Virginia (October 2016)

Facilitator for 3 Sessions “Digital Destination Management & Converting Interest to Action,” “Wed Tech – The Technology Driving the Weddings Market,” and “Farmer’s Maret to Market Square: The Global Guide to Culinary Tourism” – Hawai’i Tourism Conference – Honolulu, Hawai’i (September 2016)

“Cultural Heritage Tourism” (keynote) – Revitalize Washington (Main Street) Conference – Chelan, Washington (May 2016)

“Creating a Fundraising Board: Youth INC, A Case Study” – The Foundation Center – New York, NY (December 2012)

“Building the Best Board for Challenging Times” – GuideStar Webinar (July 2012)

“The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning” – Leadership Greater Washington DC (November 2011)

“Real Time Strategic Planning” – Leadership Greater Washington DC (June 2011)

Training & Instruction

Appalachian Regional Commissions’  ReadyNonprofit Technical Assistance Program  “Financial Management”, “Fundraising”, “Programs & Operations”, “Human Capital”, “Board Development” and “Marketing Communications” (online courses Fall 2020 – Fall 2022)

University of British Columbia Centre for Continuing Studies: “Cultural Tourism” (online courses 2013-2018)

College of Coastal Georgia: “Destination Marketing” (Fall 2014); “Principles of Marketing” (Summer, Fall 2014); “Integrated Promotion” (Spring 2014)

Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College: “Cultural Heritage Tourism,” “Product Development,” “Sustainable Tourism” (2007-2011, 2014)

The George Washington University College of Business: “Sustainable Tourism” (2014); “Destination Marketing” (2013)