Heritage Corridors: Routes to Increased Occupancy
By John Poimiroo Principal, Poimiroo & Partners | October 28, 2008
When limited markets are divided among competing hotels with similar facilities and services, hoteliers find that new guests can be attracted and hotel occupancy increased by revisiting the past.
They've discovered that heritage corridors create additional reasons to travel a route, be loyal to a property and stay longer. These less-traveled corridors were once the beaten path, but now have nostalgic appeal for travelers in search of a slower pace, authenticity and our nation's history.
Nearly all the 35 National Heritage Corridors and most state and local corridors are built around old transportation corridors... old highways, railroads, canals, rivers, ports and other waterways, but it is not the byways, historic facilities or equipment themselves that attract public interest. It is their historical and cultural character that does so.
Utah describes its heritage corridors as where "yesterday meets today," and "where history continues to shape the architecture, music, crafts, foods, festivals, customs, culture and lifestyle." Like many states, Utah employs its heritage corridors as a tool to encourage travelers to visit lesser-known destinations. In turn, rural and depressed economies benefit through the export value of travel spending, which also helps sustain arts, culture and traditional lifestyles both directly and indirectly. The entertaining stories and cultures along these byways attract travel spending, generate state and local tax revenues and create new jobs, motivating local officials and residents to see cultural heritage tourism as vital to their economies and way of life.
Every part of America has stories and cultures of interest to travelers, whether it be native American history and culture, early European colonies, military installations and battlefields, the arts, crafts and cultural traditions of local people or pop culture (i.e., motion pictures, the summer of love, rock music, etc.). Grand themes are always compelling, but even lesser ones can attract a following. And, heritage corridors need not be limited to the countryside, compact corridors can provide the warp and woof of a city's cultural fabric.
All but one of America's National Heritage Corridors are located east of the Mississippi River. Those in the east are largely related to transportation corridors, such as the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor in New York State or the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor in Connecticut, but heritage corridors need not be limited to transportation routes, either. There are conceptual routes such as Texas' Los Caminos del Rio" or "Texas in World War II" corridors. Any aspect of the American experience can be a heritage corridor.