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How to Promote Tourism Along With Citizens’ Quality of Life

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Tourism is evolving and must contribute to local and regional citizens’ well-being. Here are the development avenues to promote.

Tourism is a rapidly changing industry. When its development is well planned, it offers great opportunities to contribute to citizens’ quality of life and regions’ economic vitality. To do this, it is essential that all the involved tourism and non-tourism stakeholders work together.

Municipalities must consult with citizens to implement appropriate regulations, infrastructures and guidelines that encourage people to live together in harmony while discovering a living environment. In the medium and long run, a tourism destination that neither consults with its residents, nor involves them in decision-making, dooms itself to impoverishment.

Changing needs

Ways of travelling are changing and authentic destinations are more popular than ever. Exploring a culture involves more than visiting a museum or park, or participating in an event. True, these activities are always safe bets. But today’s visitors want to follow the local drumbeat. They go to neighbourhood restaurants and bakeries, and sometimes become your next door neighbours.

What’s more, tourists are now benefiting from the flexibility afforded by telework. They are looking to reduce their travel impacts: they extend their stays, prefer active mobility and seek out local products.

With these emerging behaviours, it is necessary to adapt in a way that benefits local citizens. Specifically, a thriving tourism industry enables regions to provide high quality activities and infrastructures that would otherwise be unthinkable.

Focusing on the following actions will help apply solutions that benefit all parties.

Promote local culture to foster citizen pride

Tourists are looking for an enjoyable and unique experience. Regions need to be promoted and explained, and have their stories told. The visitor and the local culture must be drawn together to strengthen an area’s identity.

Important and historical sites—natural or urban—can be revitalized and developed to enable citizens to reclaim public spaces and revamp them in the community’s image. It is not only the residents’ quality of life that benefits: the signature experience that emerges from such initiatives also makes the destination more attractive to travelers.

Encourage mobility and sustainability

In this expanding context of mobility and telework, it is paramount to implement certain infrastructures, including a high-speed Internet offer.

To be attractive, destinations must play a leadership role in sustainable development, as proposed by the Québec government’s tourism department in its Plan d’action pour un tourisme responsable et durable (Action Plan for Responsible and Sustainable Tourism).

For example, working through their tourism office, municipalities need to make their tourism ecosystem aware of this issue, propose practical solutions and inform tourists of sustainable products and services.

Businesses must also implement sustainable development actions by putting forward eco-responsible practices and promoting local purchasing.

Promote the development of a balanced offer

In six years, Québec’s rental property offers have exploded by 200%. They include cottages, luxury residences, condos and even temporarily rented principal residences.

This new accommodation offer is changing the industry’s relationship with travellers, who can settle in relatively long term—including in regions and neighbourhoods that used to receive few, if any, tourists.

It is important to preserve a balance that ensures that citizens and visitors live together in harmony. In Québec, the Tourist Accommodation Act covers short-term tourist accommodation and allows municipalities to exercise greater control over their accommodation offer.

Highlight a region through local purchasing

The proliferation of tourist residences makes it easier for visitors to discover communities: it takes them off the beaten track and allows them to live like a local.

This type of temporary resident will mix more with local people by living like them, sharing their daily lives, buying from public markets, for example, as well as going to local cafés and bistros—all of which contributes to the vitality of a community at various times of the year.

Under certain conditions, as telework becomes the norm, stays could even keep stretching longer. Local infrastructures, regulations and business development must be adapted to factor in this new situation.

Enrich the cultural life of citizens and attract visitors

A year-round diversified tourism and cultural offering is a considerable asset for attracting citizens and tourists alike. Promoting the improvement of infrastructures and original events will enhance destinations’ quality of life and attractiveness.

By seeking first to offer a better quality of life, cities and regions ensure they are respecting their core values and are being authentic. That is exactly what attracts visitors and contributes to a community’s vitality.

This article was written in collaboration with Ingrid Langevin, Director of the Business Transformation Consulting Group at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton.

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