I Heart Trails Tourism Strategy

Prepared for the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition

While not traditionally viewed as attractions that contribute to tourism and local economies, trails have become destination worthy sites and formidable economic generators. Trails and tourism have become intertwined to the benefit of communities, small businesses, and points of interest.

The decision to assess tourism readiness and to develop a corresponding strategy comes out of the recognition that trails and tourism make a significant mark on the local and regional economies. In connecting over 1,400 miles of trails, the coalition must also be prepared to connect trail users to local communities, business services, and iconic sites. The coalition’s desired impact can only be realized if it and its partners succeed in enticing trail users to go beyond the trail and explore nearby communities and attractions where they will have stellar experiences. This commitment to “beyond the trail” experiences necessitated a tourism assessment and strategy. In June 2015, on behalf of IHTC, Pennsylvania Environmental Council contracted Cycle Forward to assess tourism readiness and develop a strategy that offers a possible path forward in engaging in trail-related tourism promotion. The seven month project included tourism readiness surveys, development of an attractions inventory, and this strategy document.

This strategy follows the 2015 naming of the coalition and the brand foundation that was established as a part of that process. The strategy assumes that active promotion of the network as a whole will occur closer to the time of trail completion.

Attached document published January 2016

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