Rural Tourism: It’s the Places Visitors are Looking For! | American Bus Association

Rural Tourism: It’s the Places Visitors are Looking For!

Webinar | April 24 | 2 - 3 p.m. ET

Track | Business: Market Diversification

They’ve been to the big cities. They’ve experienced all the famous attractions. They have lives full of commotion and stress. What’s next?

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Covid didn’t stop Americans from traveling. When feeling hemmed in, Americans did a typically American thing: They looked for some way around the situation to still get out of the house while being around fewer people. The American road trip to explore smaller destinations re-emerged as the go-to travel experience. As more continue to get out of the house to relax and keep their wits about them, nearly 80% of Americans consider travel an essential part of their budget, with 75% indicating a superior experience is more important than cost.

The good news is that when the Morning Consult recently interviewed nearly 9,000 American adults about where they planned to travel, there were mentions of all 50 states, plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. Nearly 8 out of 10 indicated they will continue to travel domestically, even after worries about Covid have passed. 76% indicated it had given them a new appreciation for the country, and 74% indicated they enjoyed traveling domestically more than they thought they would. But why rural travel?

Visitors go to rural communities for smaller scale and local experiences, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of urban areas. They are increasingly seeking off-the-beaten-path places to discover the authentic essence of a region. In fact, 81% say trying local cuisine is a big part of the travel experience. 50% of visitors choose a destination for the historical attractions. Nearly 60% of visitors also say that natural beauty and landscape are the most critical factors in choosing a destination, with 54% preferring the scenic route. How can you leverage this data to design and promote a unique visitor experience?

With visitors looking for unique offerings, smaller-scale trips, more immersion, great food, and beautiful landscapes, it’s time for rural communities to shine!  There’s so much that destinations and tour operators can do to take advantage of the opportunities to provide today’s visitors with the experiences they are looking for. Every community has a story to tell, and that’s what visitors want to learn through heritage and cultural tourism, nature-based tourism, and, if your destination is surrounded by farms, farm-based tourism.

This webinar teaches you what it takes to design and deliver authentic and hyper-local rural tourism experiences for leisure visitors, groups, and leisure laptop luggers. Learn how to get noticed and become a valuable resource as travelers start the planning process earlier and anticipate taking more than one trip a year.


Dr. Maree Forbes Gaughan

Following two years of research, Dr. Forbes has written a 40-chapter book currently in pre-publication addressing all the important components of creating a successful tourism program in a small city, small town, or rural community. The information points to opportunities to feature the uniqueness of each location and the special authentic qualities of each place to deliver economic development.

Dr. Forbes brings over 35 years of experience to her work. She founded NTC a decade ago with the specific intention of doing something meaningful in the tourism industry.  Today, working as a Delaware Benefit Corporation (B Corp) NTC assists a wide range of organizations, small towns, rural communities, scenic byways and more to maximize their tourism assets and resources.  She brings a comprehensive understanding of the industry having worked in or with every segment of the travel industry except for the airlines, including managing an inbound tour operator for 9 years, heading a DMMO for 3 years, serving as a marketing consultant for decades, development of detailed itineraries, trails and other route-based experiences at more than 300 destinations, and serving as a Professor of Destination Management and Marketing a Temple University for 8 years. This multi-faceted experience provides a keen understanding of the needs of each sector of the tourism industry. Dr. Forbes is the author of several previous books, multiple articles, white papers, research summaries, and other publications focusing on the economic impact of tourism, tourism marketing, and effective agile strategic planning to create organizational sustainability into the future. 


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The American Bus Association serves a thriving industry that provides nearly 600 million passenger trips annually on charters, tours, scheduled service, and shuttles. Membership in ABA includes motorcoach operators, tour operators, tourism-related organizations, and products and service suppliers.

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