Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA

Services

Tourism-related economic development assistance includes a variety of services designed to improve an area’s ability to capitalize on natural, historical, and man-made resources. The institute’s assistance can include research, technical assistance, or both. Some examples of research subject areas:

  • Customer segmentation and targeting helps you better identify and understand your best customers, find them, and reach them more effectively. The institute specializes in lifestyle segmentation using the innovative Claritas PRIZM NE ™ system.
  • Market feasibility analyses look at the potential for a new tourism product or service, and include a review of market size, competition, trends, user profiles, and travel expenditures.
  • Economic feasibility and economic impact analyses evaluate if a tourism project is financially sound for a community, region, or state government.
  • Comprehensive assessments combine several of these services into one project to give a community or region a complete picture of its tourism industry and potential.
  • Other customized projects can be designed to provide the information you need for tourism-related economic development or business decisions.
  • The International Tourism Research Institute helps to keep clients current on tourism-related economic development by disseminating information via presentations and workshops.

Project Abstracts

Punta Cana International Tourist, Aircrew, and Real Estate Report, September 2012

To download the report in PDF format click here. To download the PowerPoint presentation in PDF format, click here. To download the poster presentation in PDF format, click here.

The International Tourism Research Institute (ITRI) offers many different types of assessment. Assessments of quality, satisfaction, and service from the customers' perspective are common in the hospitality and tourism industry, and can be applied to airports, hotels, restaurants, and attractions. Contact ITRI about your assessment today.

Punta Cana International Airport Tourist and Aircrew Survey, May 2011

To download the report in PDF format, click here. To download the PowerPoint presentation in PDF format, click here. To download the poster presentation in PDF format, click here.

In May 2011, the research team collected 1,149 exit surveys for the Punta Cana International Airport. The team reported a positive increase in the mean average for total airport satisfaction for the 2011 survey respondents. On a scale ranging from 1 to 5 (1-poor, 2-fair, 3-average, 4-good, 5-excellent), the mean overall airport satisfaction score improved from 3.77 in 2009 to 3.85 in 2011, an increase of 0.08. After a slight decline in the mean 2008 to 2009, 2010's mean satisfaction score increased 0.06 from the 2008 high of 3.71. The 2011 mean is also the highest average mean for airport satisfaction since the inception of the survey in 2006. Additionally, 15 of 36 dimensions of airport satisfaction improved significantly from 2010.

Tourism, Innovation, Creativity, and Growth: Advancing Aruba's Knowledge Economy,
May 2011

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. To download the PDF, click here.

In partnership with the National Council for Innovation and Competitiveness of Aruba (NCIC), the International Tourism Research Institute is playing a key role in shaping economic development and enterprise innovation policy for the island of Aruba. The project consists of a two month consulting and teaching collaboration with the NCIC and the University of Aruba, working with national policy makers, community leaders, and residents. The results of this project will help establish a knowledge-driven, entrepreneurial economy in Aruba that positions tourism as a catalyst for other forms of economic development, including technology, real estate, health care, energy, and finance.

Punta Cana International Airport Exit Survey, May 2010

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. To download the PDF, click here.
To download the journal article, click here.

The exit survey for the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana International Airport has shown a steady improvement in results from surveys in previous years. In 2010, the research team collected 1,387 surveys, more than any previous year. The team continued to ask many of the same questions year to year and therefore can determine in which areas satisfaction with the airport’s performance improved, declined, or remained the same.

The research team reported a positive increase in the mean average for total airport satisfaction for the 2010 survey respondents. On a scale from 1 to 5 (1-poor, 2-fair, 3-average, 4-good, 5-excellent), the mean overall airport satisfaction score improved from 3.56 in 2009 to 3.77 in 2010, an increase of 0.21. After a slight decline in the mean from 2008 to 2009, 2010’s mean satisfaction score increased 0.06 from the 2008 high of 3.71. This year’s mean is also the highest average mean for airport satisfaction since the inception of the survey in 2006. Additionally, 32 of 36 dimensions of airport satisfaction improved significantly in 2009. Three variables did not significantly change from 2009, and the only dimension that decreased significantly was satisfaction with the temperature (too warm) in the arrival hall.

Tourism and Economic Development: Columbia, South Carolina's Top Visitor Inquiry Segments, March 2010

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

Visitor inquiries have implications for tourism marketing and development; downtown development and redevelopment; and industrial development related to real estate, retiree attraction, health care, and technology. This research project collected 5,545 visitor inquiry records from June 30, 2008 to June 30, 2009. This data was very detailed, including Zip code and address, thus making possible a precise identification of travelers interested in visiting Columbia. This data was analyzed using Nielsen Claritas Corporation’s PRIZM ® market segmentation software, identifying top visitor segments by inquiry. Some distinctive features of these top market segments by inquiry was that they were (1) relatively middle income; (2) young-to-middle age; and (3) without children.

Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce Membership Survey, November 2008

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

This project determined the level of importance members of the Greater Columbia (S.C.) Chamber of Commerce placed on particular programs and events. The survey consisted of 9 items about chamber events and 12 items about chamber programs. Monthly e-blasts were followed by a direct mailing. Respondents were asked to rank items from very important to very unimportant. The project assisted the Chamber in increasing the level of satisfaction among members.

A Strategic Tourism Plan for the Salkehatchie Region, South Carolina, October 2008

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. To download the PDF, click here.

The purpose of the Strategic Tourism Plan for the Salkehatchie Region was to guide tourism marketing and development efforts in the region through a comprehensive examination of existing and potential assets, attractions, markets, and products.

The Salkehatchie Region includes Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, and Hampton counties. Resident comments and suggestions were collected through a total of five public meetings during the fall of 2007. These meetings were notable in that not only were residents provided a chance to voice opinions, but also given a chance to submit observations and knowledge of the region in writing.

Institute researchers found that the approximate market size of current tourism business in the Salkehatchie Region was an estimated $28.8 million annually and provides 848 jobs. With marketing, development, and investment, the value of tourism in the region could be as much as $49 million and providing 1,093 jobs.

Researchers also found that the most viable current tourism segments are those individuals interested in camping, hunting, and history. However, future market development shows that the highest economic impact should accrue from nature-based tourists.

Although it is becoming widely recognized that tourism is economic development for South Carolina, it is not widely recognized that tourism can serve as a catalyst for other forms of economic development, such as retirement, real estate, and health care.

In this context, A Strategic Tourism Plan for the Salkehatchie Region is a crucial step toward a more balanced economic development program statewide.

Best Practices in South Carolina Cultural Tourism, May 2008

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

This project produced case studies of cultural tourism product development in South Carolina, including the Cultural Council of Georgetown County, Barnwell County Arts Council, Newberry Opera House Foundation, Arts Council of Rock Hill and York County, and Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County.

Aligning State, Regional, and Local Tourism Marketing in Pennsylvania: Analysis and Policy Recommendations, May 2007

To download the PDF, click here.

Commissioned by the State of Pennsylvania, this report reviews state policies and practices of local and regional tourism marketing, discussing how to build regional capacity in Pennsylvania's tourism marketing, and exploring the role of local identity in regional tourism. It then makes recommendations for policy changes to create the most efficient and effective possible tourism promotion program in Pennsylvania, as mandated by the Tourism and Promotion Act.

The International Tourism Research Institute is similarly available to assist other states in formulating and implementing tourism funding policy.

China Research: Perspectives of International Tour Guides in China, May 2006

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

This research explored intercultural interactions between English-speaking tourists and Chinese locals, capturing the richly-detailed “voices” of tour guides including their experiences and stories.

Tour guides were chosen because they are experts in multiple cultures, having observed and taken part in literally thousands of intercultural interactions.  Tour guides also control the “China Experience” for nearly all group travelers to China.

Tour guides were interviewed in three locations intended to capture a cross-section of travelers’ experiences, including:  (1) Beijing, the cultural and historical center of China; (2) Shanghai, the country’s commercial and shopping center; and (3) Guilin, a major nature-based destination.

Sample interview questions included:  (1) what tour group has left the deepest impression on you?  Why?  (2) could you describe an example of when international tourists showed disrespect, (3) could you describe an example of when international tourists show respect, and (4) could you describe an example of conflict or friction between tourists and locals?

The tour guides reported widespread stereotypes and distorted images of China based on Western travelers’ exposure to television, movies, and guidebooks.  Many of these images are based on historical stereotypes from the early 1900s and 1970s (the Cultural Revolution era).  These stereotypes often referenced “typical, simple, and ordinary” perspectives on Chinese life.  The researchers found that these stereotypes permeate food, dress, politics, economics, and religion.

The researchers assert that these stereotypes and images may amount to a type of “anti-marketing,” with the images actually shaping China’s brand image negatively.  They argue that in the long-term, these images undermine the country’s brand promise and in some cases lead to visitor dissatisfaction with a dampening influence on repeat visitation. 

Tourism Development in Sudan and Yemen, February, 2006

To download the PowerPoint presentation of Sudan, click here. For PDF, click here.

To download the PowerPoint presentation of Yemen, click here. For PDF, click here.

These planning workshops were held in Khartoum, Sudan, and Sana’a, Yemen, as a means of promoting tourism as a peaceful strategy for sustainable economic development, emphasizing transparency and accountability. The workshops were presented to the Ministers of Tourism for both countries. The International Tourism Research Institute strongly believes that in addition to economic development, tourism can be used as a tool for peace and democracy.

China Research: Tourism Planning and Urban Design Recommendations for Hangzhou’s (China) Grand Canal (with Dr. Wu Bihu, Director, Peking University Center for Recreation and Tourism Research), August 2004

Hangzhou, in China’s Zhejiang Province, is a beautiful and prosperous city, one on the verge of becoming an international tourism destination. The city features several advantages for visitors from around the world, including many attractions, excellent location, favorable weather, and affordability. Of the city’s many attractions, the Grand Canal is perhaps the centerpiece of the city’s efforts to attract more visitors, both domestic and international. The tourism planning team recommendations included: (1) tourism development around three geographical nodes, representing the past, present, and future of Hangzhou and canal; (2) preserve historic sites for those tourists interested in heritage and cultural tourism; (3) promote human-scale development along the canal; (4) promote greenway development along both sides of the canal; (5) promote upscale residential development conforming with the canal’s pedestrian scale; (6) provide adequate parking off-site, but near each of the canal’s primary nodes; (7) create an island within the canal that might include a monument to Hangzhou and canal, as well as an entertainment and dining complex; (8) coordinate and manage commercial and tourism functions of the river by allotting times for each at certain periods of the day or on certain days; (9) provide separate lanes for tourism use, with commercial ships required to yield to marked tourism vessels; (10) create a “share the river” public awareness campaign, similar to the “share the road” campaigns for bicyclists; (11) build linkages with regional tourism amenities such as those along the coast.

A Strategic Tourism Marketing and
Development Plan for Kershaw County, South Carolina,
April 2006

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. For PDF, click here.

The International Tourism Research Institute completed a strategic tourism marketing and development plan for Kershaw, SC, in April 2006. Kershaw County is known for significant Revolutionary War sites, including the Battle of Camden site. The county is also well known for its equine industry and events.

Strategic recommendations for Kershaw County included:

  • (1) develop outdoor recreation assets, including golf, water-related activities, and soccer
  • (2) maintain cultural attractions and events that complement historical and equine-related assets
  • (3) create nature-based attractions to balance outstanding historical assets
  • (4) preserve authentic and attractive rural landscapes used for outdoor recreation by controlling sprawl and strip development
  • (5) improve shopping amenities--shopping is the top tourist activity in the United States and an important means of capturing tourist dollars
  • (6) improve the variety of dining and lodging--Kershaw’s upscale market segments require diverse dining and lodging experiences
  • (7) plan attractions and events with families in mind as Kershaw County’s targeted market segments are upscale families
  • (8) invest in historical attractions and equine entertainment as they have recognized brand identity and the highest economic impact
  • (9) improve signage, interpretation, and access
  • (10) develop a Kershaw County brand for marketing and advertising.

Open Studio Concept for Conyers, Georgia, June 2006

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. For PDF, click here.

The International Tourism Research Institute completed an open studio development project for Conyers, Georgia. The project focused on the revitalization of Conyer’s Olde Town district. The purpose of the project was to transform Olde Town into an arts district with open studios, featuring such activities as glass-blowing and woodworking. In addition to identifying 12 existing buildings and sites for open studio development, recommendations for the Olde Town district included:

  • (1) implementing zoning and design guidelines allowing for an eclectic, colorful, and eventful arts district
  • (2) connect with Atlanta's growing creative class
  • (3) developing unique retail outlets, offering shoppers an alterative to “big box” retail
  • (4) creating an incentive program for artists, including free or reduced rents
  • (5) funding a Main Street program to administer the district
  • (6) engaging the community in constructive dialogue concerning Olde Town’s development direction.  

Rhode Island Tourism Development Advisory Council, October 2003

For PDF presentation of state tourism funding models, click here.

The Rhode Island Tourism Development Advisory Council was established in 2003 by Governor Donald Carcieri for the purposes of analyzing the state’s tourism system and providing recommendations to increase the efficiency and productivity of the tourism industry for the greater benefit of Rhode Island’s citizens. 

The council held 13 public meetings between July 15 and October 28, 2003.  The process involved budget analyses for organizations receiving state tourism dollars, testimony from each of the eight tourism regions and the state Division of Tourism, in-depth reports examining transportation, lodging, and restaurants; and commentary from two independent external experts (one of which was Dr. Harrill) in the field of state tourism and development.

The council reached a key conclusion:  Systemic change—including some consolidation of marketing and administration among the state’s eight tourism regions—was required to better plan and execute an efficient and productive strategic direction for Rhode Island tourism.  During the course of this inquiry, the council studied two funding models found in volume 1 and 2 of Dr. Harrill’s Guide to Best Practices in Tourism and Destination Management:  the Florida model, based on public-private partnerships and the Missouri model, based on growth in sales tax revenues.

A Feasibility Study for the Golden Isles Parkway, June 2003

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. For PDF, click here.

While with Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Institute, Dr. Harrill undertook a feasibility study of developing Georgia’s Golden Isle Parkway (U.S. 341) as a regional tourism asset. He identified and documented the route’s assets, received information about attractions from county representatives, and conducted on-site assessments. Specific recommendations included:

  • (1) renewing the Golden Isles Parkway Association to market and develop the parkway
  • (2) developing strong relationships with other regional tourism organizations
  • (3) developing and using the Golden Isles Parkway brand consistently in marketing and advertising
  • (4) improving historical and cultural amenities along the parkway
  • (5) improving shopping and entertainment
  • (6) improving the variety of dining and lodging
  • (7) improving opportunities for tourists to enjoy agricultural products and experience landscapes
  • (8) increasing days and hours that attractions are open along the parkway
  • (9) improving signage and interpretation.

A Feasibility Study for the Woodpecker Trail, June 2003

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. For PDF, click here.

While with Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Institute, Harrill undertook a feasibility study for developing the state’s Woodpecker Trail (Georgia Route 121) as a regional tourism asset. Harrill identified and documented the trail’s assets, received information about attractions from county representatives, and conducted on-site assessments. Specific recommendations included:

  • (1) building a strong 10-county Woodpecker Trail Association
  • (2) developing a mission statement, with clear goals and objectives
  • (3) enhancing existing historic assets
  • (4) improving signage along the trail to take visitors off the route itself and toward attractions
  • (5) encouraging business and attraction owners to remain open at times advantageous to capturing visitation
  • (6) providing varied lodging and dining experiences to suit the needs of diverse market segments.

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area: Opportunities for Tourism Development, February 2005

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

The Atlanta metropolitan area is well-known as a destination for conventions and sports tourism. However, for the region to remain viable in the increasingly competitive tourism industry, it must diversify its current product to attract other promising niches. The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, a short drive from downtown Atlanta, has great potential to attract visitors interested in nature, culture, and heritage. Harrill’s recommendations for this study included:

  • (1) improve signage and interpretation
  • (2) emphasize small-town atmosphere
  • (3) develop regional tourism, including golf, camping, hunting, and fishing amenities
  • (4) develop a tour itinerary of the heritage area
  • (5) simplify the “story” of the development of the heritage area
  • (6) implement a modest tourism program, being cautious about facility investments
  • (7) market to families, as well as multi-cultural interests
  • (8) develop materials for distribution by the DeKalb and Atlanta convention and visitor bureaus
  • (9) feature local retail prominently in marketing materials.

Georgia’s Lake Hartwell Region: Opportunities for Further Tourism Development, February 2004

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. For PDF, click here.

While with Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Institute, Harrill undertook a study to identify opportunities for further tourism development in Stephens, Franklin, and Hart counties for the Lake Hartwell Regional Marketing Alliance. Tasks completed for this project included a complete inventory of tourism assets in the region, an assessment of the opinions and attitudes of local leaders, and a profile of overnight visitors. Overall, Harrill determined that the alliance should:

  • (1) develop and use the Lake Hartwell brand consistently in marketing and advertising
  • (2) improve the historic and cultural amenities to match the region’s natural assets
  • (3) improve shopping and lodging
  • (4) increase the variety of dining and lodging
  • (5) improve opportunities for tourists to enjoy agricultural products and experience landscapes
  • (6) increase days and hours that attractions are open in the region
  • (7) improve signage and interpretation in the region
  • (8) place more emphasis on education, funding, and research
  • (9) emphasize a small-town atmosphere.

Heard County: Opportunities for Further Tourism Development, June 2004

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. For PDF, click here.

Heard County is a scenic area offering excellent quality of life for its residents and visitors alike. The county, within 40 minutes of metropolitan Atlanta, boasts an environment with great recreation and tourism potential related to adventure tourism and active outdoor recreation. In this study for Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Institute, Harrill’s recommendations included:

  • (1) develop and provide access to nature-based attractions
  • (2) offer interpretative tours of Heard County’s historical resources
  • (3) stage an event celebrating local history and culture
  • (4) website needs logo, consistent marketing theme, and to improve the tourism section
  • (5) develop partnerships with chambers of commerce and tourism organizations in neighboring counties
  • (6) improve shopping opportunities due to its important means of capturing tourism dollars
  • (7) enhance lodging and dining facilities
  • (8) increase days/hours that attractions are open
  • (9) improve signage throughout the county

Lower Chattahoochee Regional Tourism Marketing Study and Workshops, June 2003

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. For PDF, click here.

While with Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Institute, Harrill undertook a study to identify potential tourism marketing segments in Clay, Quitman, Randolph, and Stewart counties in southwest Georgia and their municipalities. Harrill conducted a lifestyle segmentation analysis that determined what types of people visit, and are likely to visit, the Lower Chattahoochee region. Researchers employed various tools, including Claritas’s PRIZM NE ™ lifestyle segmentation system, Longwoods International’s syndicated visitor studies, and ESRI’s ArcView geographic information system. The project helped persuade local officials to pursue tourism potential in the region, and a Rural Business Enterprise grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded four workshops for the regional development center. The sessions covered opportunity assessments, case studies, marketing, planning, and other tourism topics.

Resident Attitudes Toward Tourism Development in
Charleston, South Carolina, December 2000

To download the PowerPoint presentation, click here. For Journal of American Planning Association PDF, click here. For Journal of Planning Literature PDF, click here.

In the last 30 years, community perceptions of negative impacts from tourism have encouraged research from several different fields into community attitudes, with the goal of overcoming opposition to tourism development. This project explored the relationships between community attachment, existing through such bonds as friendship and kinship, and resident attitudes toward tourism development. Harrill studied Charleston to understand the differences in attitude toward tourism development among its neighborhoods, based on community attachment variables. He also wanted to explore the role of community attachment in predicting these attitudes, especially regarding inhabitants of historic residential districts. Harrill’s recommendations for Charleston’s historic district included: (1) efforts to manage dissatisfaction may begin with educational and promotional programs targeting specific neighborhood groups; (2) residents of historic neighborhoods should receive special tax considerations to reverse gentrification; (3) tourism planners in Charleston should develop tourism in the city’s indirect support zones, away from residential neighborhoods; and (4) urban design should be used to create architectural and land use buffers between hosts and guests.

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