Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cultural Tourism DC

I'm intrigued with Kevin's comment about the necessity to define our focus on cultural tourism and NOT cultural economy. I've been browsing and writing on it for our draft and came across the following, not so attractive but informative, site. Anything useful to model? Here's their mission:

"Cultural Tourism DC (CTdc) strengthens the image and economy of Washington, DC, neighborhood by neighborhood, by linking more than 200 DC cultural and neighborhood organizations with partners in tourism, hospitality, government, and business. CTdc offers an innovative model for maximizing the economic impact of cultural tourism in urban neighborhoods and helps residents and tourists discover and experience Washington's authentic arts and culture."


Friday, January 23, 2009

Drill Down . . .

For even more evidence of the area as a cultural draw, click on the Amherst link in the story about Leverett, mentioned in the previous post.

You've got to love the interwebs. It make proving a valid point so easy.

NY Times article - Evidence of the Valley as a Cultural Draw

As forwarded to me by Laurie Fenlason, Smith's Executive Director of Public Affairs and Special Assistant to the President, this nice little article in today's NY Times.

Quoth Ms. Fenlason: "Yet more evidence of the Valley as a cultural draw."


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Coverage of UMass Tourism Event

The Daily Hampshire Gazette's Nick Grabbe (article here [subscription required]) and Springfield Republican's Diane Lederman (article here) were among the assembled for UMass' Economic Development Conversation on Tourism. All-in-all, the event was quite good, especially the more informal conversation that occurred after the speakers.

Some highlights, which are also covered in the articles above: Mary Kay Wydra reported that the GSCVB has once again made public its intention to rename the bureau to the Pioneer Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, echoing Greg Chiecko's statement at the Bureau's annual meeting in October. Ms. Wydra also spoke on a larger theme of promotional cooperation throughout the Valley, which should be greeted as very exciting news to any Hampshire County-based skeptics. The renaming of the bureau may very well go a long way to establishing what many in this conversation lament, which is a vague geographic sense among outsiders. A rebranding might allow the bureau to really define the sense of place for travelers, and that can only help the whole region.

Friday, January 9, 2009

WFCR Foundation Establishes the WFCR Arts and Humanities Award, Seeks Nominees

For more information, click here.

UMass Amherst To Host Economic Development Conversation on Tourism with Amherst, Hadley and Northampton

Dec. 29, 2008

Contact: Martha Patrick Nelson

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst will host the fourth in a series of public conversations on economic development to discuss tourism in the communities of Amherst, Hadley and Northampton. The event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 15 from 3-5:30 p.m. in the Massachusetts Room of the Mullins Center.

The discussion will focus on how officials in Amherst, Hadley and Northampton can maximize their potential for bringing tourism dollars to the local economy.

Among those who will participate are:

• Tony Maroulis, executive director, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce
• Suzanne Beck, executive director, Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce
• Curt Shumway, president, Hampshire Hospitality Group
• Mary Kay Wydra, president, Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau
• John Mullin, Graduate School dean and director of the Center for Economic Development at UMass Amherst
• Rod Warnick, department chair, hospitality and tourism management, UMass Amherst
• Larry Shaffer, Amherst town manager
• David Nixon, Hadley town administrator
• Terry Anderson, Northampton economic development coordinator

The group will look at current visitor data, tourism trends, area assets and resources, and how the three communities fit into the regional tourism landscape.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Why Statistics Matter: The Case of Museums10.

Thanks to the Massachusetts Cultural Council's John and Abigail Adams Grant Program requirements, Museums10 was able to make a strong case for its value to the region because it had been, like all grant awards recipients, responsible for assessment of its program and impact on the larger community. The assessment process made a stats wonk out of me, and I know there are a few other numbers lovers among members of the Cultural Mass. group, as well, who might share their perspectives.

While there has some disagreement among Museums10 members about the collaboration's impact on audience, one aspect not in dispute is that the group gleaned useful information about its audience and its role as an economic driver for our region. The GoDutch! initiative from March - August 2006 (some exhibitions actually opened earlier, notably the Mead in January 2006), saw 105,000 visitors to all of the museums during the time frame of the exhibition season. While it had not been terribly difficult to compile and aggregate attendance stats, there had not been a call to do that before M10 was funded by the MCC.

Comparing attendance data, the 105,000 visitors to GoDutch! (aided also by interest in the new Natural History building at Amherst College), was a 15% increase over the corresponding year before. M10 also discovered that 35% who had responded to its surveys during GoDutch! were travelers staying overnight at area hotels, and that nearly 70% planned to shop during their trip to a museum. These were encouraging stats. M10 was making the case that people come to a museum and then avail themselves of what the area has to offer. These are not just visitors who come and go. They become active participants in our local economy. In all, 171,000 people attended area museums in 2006.

The 2007 BookMarks survey was improved, with a better sampling period and size, and questions that were refined by the good folks at the University of Massachusetts Student Assessment, Research & Evaluation Office (SAREO) led by Liz Williams, the Associate Director for Research. In this version of the audience intercept, M10 asked for spending data to augment standard demographic questions. Again, the results were quite encouraging, with over 1100 respondents, the survey sample had an accuracy of +/- 3 percent, and showed an average spending of over $100 by each visitor. Multiply the average by the 183,000 visitors to Museums10 sites in 2007, and you have quite a nice sum to the local economy. The impact to the local economy continues to increase when one factors in hotel stays, which stayed consistent from the year before at 35% of visitors.

Certainly statistics can be misinterpreted by non-statisticians like me; I've been accused by colleagues of being a bit too rosy with my conclusions. Perhaps. The main point, whether you figure a $4 million impact or a $35 million impact to the region from the museums in 2007, the investment in Cultural Marketing and Tourism in the Upper Valley is a smart one and one that can easily be increased in the coming years.