Who should be on our community leadership team?

After several years, strategies and suggestions develop for building leadership teams to address community-driven tourism and development.

Building teams and partnerships to address community-driven tourism can be challenging. However, the rewards are often invaluable. Those individuals or organizations spearheading efforts are, understandably so, seeking partners and collaborators who can help guarantee success both during and after the completion of the project(s). But a frequently asked question almost always arises, “Who should be part of the team?”

The Michigan State University Extension tourism team suggests when building a leadership team to address community-driven tourism, to strive to include a diverse array of representatives from your public and private sectors, as well as underserved audiences. This may, but does not always, include representatives from:

  • City or Village Managers
  • Planning Departments
  • Parks and Recreation
  • County Economic Development Corporations
  • Downtown Development Authorities
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Convention and Visitor Bureaus (or Destination Marketing Organizations)
  • Civic and/or Faith-based Organizations
  • Business Owners
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Organizations that represent marginalized community members, such as youth, low-income populations, and immigrants to your community

Public/private partnerships expand resources and can provide multiple funding streams to address marketing, infrastructure, and the overall tourism experience. As for youth, they are your future residents and can offer a different perspective an older generation may not consider when contemplating tourism development. Furthermore, demographics of communities are changing frequently. New residents, immigrants, and low-income populations also bring diverse perspectives and skills that aid in creating inclusive, vibrant tourism economies. Regardless of the endeavor, your community will increase its chances of action and successes in any endeavor by constructing leadership teams derived from this list.

Michigan State University Extension Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offers a plethora of educational resources to expand your community’s knowledge and awareness of this topic. Additionally, a recent “Building Community Leadership Teams for FIT” short training video addresses this topic in greater detail.

Michigan State University Extension’s First Impressions Tourism (FIT) assessment program provides participating communities with helpful suggestions from first-time visitors to improve their community-driven tourism. A recent report highlights a wide range of community action and successes across multiple Michigan communities. And while the program successes themselves have received ample attention from state and national partners, the required community leadership teams (CLTs) for FIT are the actual catalysts for making these successes possible.

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