Steal this idea? We look at four destinations with interesting initiatives worth knowing about.
Santa Fe, NM — New Mexico Tourism Department is unveiling a collection of virtual tours of the Land of Enchantment, highlighting signature destinations, historic and cultural sites, and outdoor spaces.
Each virtual tour gives users a 360º walkthrough of prominent sites and locations. Users can click on information hotspots within the virtual tour to learn more about specific points of interest.
“Virtual tours and other forms of immersive media have become incredibly useful tools for destination exploration and inspiration,” New Mexico Cabinet Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said. “We’re happy to work with communities throughout the state to bring these virtual tours to life.”
The virtual tours were produced through the department’s recovery readiness initiative which provided media production services and digital optimization assistance to communities looking to make a strong return to destination promotion after putting travel marketing efforts on pause.
The first of these virtual tours come from the state’s Northwest region:
Pittsburgh, PA — Pittsburgh is dimming its streetlights, adding shades and changing to lower wattage LED lights starting in 2022, pledging to become the first U.S. city in the eastern part of the nation to become a dark sky city.
With the goal of reducing light pollution and increasing energy efficiency, the Pennsylvania city becomes 35th to do so, joining destinations such as Sedona, Tucson and Flagstaff, the first-ever in 2001.
Pittsburgh will follow the protocols of the International Dark Sky Association. Switching out 40,000 fixtures will take up to two years, however officials say benefits of a dark sky program will be realized even sooner.
Some cities participate in smaller dark sky initiatives to benefit seasonal bird migration, such as Lights Out Philly. Washington, D.C. and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are reported by Bloomberg CityLab to be considering related dark sky legislation.
San Diego, CA — San Diego Tourism Authority announced 10 area businesses as the first participants in the SDTA Tourism Accelerator, a program launched to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the local tourism industry.
The companies chosen for the Accelerator’s debut represent a wide variety of business sectors, from bars and restaurants to event organizers to marketing and training specialists – even a comedy troupe.
What they share is diversity in ownership: All the businesses chosen are operated by people of color, women, veterans or those who identify as LGBTQ+.
The companies were selected from among nearly 50 applicants for the pilot program, which will provide free mentoring, education and networking opportunities as well as SDTA membership.
Sponsored by Bank of America and San Diego Gas & Electric, the Accelerator will offer participants a program of support valued at over $10,000:
- Financial coaching from Bank of America, legal support from Procopio as well as two free quarter-page ads in both the San Diego Business Journal and San Diego Magazine.
- Complimentary Membership in SDTA and free admission to select SDTA events as well as special access to SDTA senior staff, board members and program investors.
- A voucher for a course through UC San Diego Extension.
- A $1,000 credit to use on SDTA’s digital advertising platforms.
- Coaching from a dedicated mentor who is a successful operator or owner of a tourism or hospitality business.
Bank of America and SDG&E are the financial sponsors of the Accelerator, one of the first of its kind in the country.
“When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, they must be intentional and have a business case,” said Julie Coker, president and CEO of San Diego Tourism Authority. “The goal of this Tourism Accelerator is to increase the number of diverse businesses in our membership base, because that will give our visitors more diverse products from which to choose. When we grow the number of diverse businesses, we are helping to ensure the local tourism recovery is equitable for everyone, and that is a win-win for our residents and our visitors.”
Cheyenne, WY — “The release of our Tourism Master Plan was not the end of the process, but just the beginning. Six months in we continue to use it as a road map for success. The master plan called for creating a strategy around events in the community. This summer we produced seven rodeos and chuck wagon dinners, this fall we partnered with Pine Bluffs Distilling for our OctoberWest dinner and there is still one week left to celebrate Old West Holidays. Events drive visitation, but also provide a quality of life boost to the residents of Laramie County.”
Jim Walter, Vice President Sales & Marketing at Visit Cheyenne writes, “Bold vision. That’s what our tourism master plan offers. Every day we are implementing that vision. The boldest idea? Merger operations with the Downtown Development Authority. Why? Visitors to Cheyenne rate the downtown experience as incredibly important to their vacations.”
“Section two of our tourism master plan spoke to the downtown Cheyenne experience. In July, Visit Cheyenne signed a memorandum of understanding to run the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority. This streamlined processes, brought fresh energy and support to the staff of the DDA and new ideas. The Capital Improvement and Facade Improvement Grants have been modernized, a new solution for the downtown hole has been identified and downtown events have been enhanced through collaboration. If you’ve shopped downtown Cheyenne this Christmas season, you’ve noticed a difference in attitude, density of shopping and how the community is embracing it.”