historic attractions are key
to its Heritage Tourism efforts
habits of travelers who seek
cultural experience put money into local economies
MADISON, Ind.(February 2003) Travel and tourism,
one of the largest retail industries in the United States, means big
In 2000, Americans accumulated more than $580 billion in travel-related
expenses, while the industry directly supported 7.8 million jobs, according
to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). Such statistics
indicate that, as an industry, travel and tourism is a major contemporary
economic force. Specifically, heritage tourism has emerged
as a powerful segment of that industry.
The National Trust for Historic Preservations Heritage Tourism
Program defines heritage tourism as travel designed to experience
the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and
people of the past.
left, Kim Nyberg,
John Staicer and
Cultural and heritage tourism ranks among the top
activities for U.S. travelers, said Heritage Tourism Program director
Amy Jordan Webb. Nearly 93 million Americans say they included at least
one cultural, arts, heritage or historic activity or event while traveling
in the past year, according to The Historic-Cultural Traveler,
2001 Edition, produced by the TIA.
The study also found that the group stayed longer and spent, on average,
nearly 30 percent more per trip than all U.S. travelers.
Such statistics have captured the attention of tourism officials in
many states and regions.
We know from national figures it is a huge business, said
Marianna Weinzapfel, deputy director of the Indiana Tourism Division.
Theyre definitely the type of tourists we want to attract,
and Indiana has the product theyre looking for. As a state,
Indiana has much to offer in the way of cultural and historical tourism
opportunities. Those resources have inspired the formation of many groups
that further the states position as a heritage destination.
Historic Southern Indiana (HSI) is a grassroots organization founded
by the University of Southern Indiana and dedicated to preserving, enhancing
and promoting Indianas historical, natural and recreational resources.
One successful effort of the organization has been the development of
the Ohio River Scenic Route, which runs along the river through rural
communities in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.
HSIs work on the Indiana portion of the byway has been cited as
an example of success by the National Trust. Linda Lytle of the Madison
Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is a member of the board of directors
of HSI. She said studies show that tourists are looking for alternatives
to interstate highway travel. Foreign and domestic travelers alike,
said Lytle, want to see hometown America. National Scenic byways are
one way they can do just that. Development of the byway, which was assisted
by the Heritage Tourism Program and the Rural Heritage Program, has
resulted in official designation as a National Scenic Byway in all three
states and has secured more than $400,000 in federal funding to help
the states install directional signage, complete interpretive planning
and to begin marketing efforts.
Lanier Days re-enactor
Steve Thomas (left).
Historic Hoosier Hills, based in Versailles, Ind., also
works to develop the economic climate that promotes historic and natural
resources in southern Indiana. Gary Conant of Historic Hoosier Hills
explained the organizations role in heritage tourism and preservation,
saying, We primarily serve as an umbrella organization that supports
a number of local community groups that are working on improving the
standards and quality of living.
According to Conant, that main purpose has evolved into providing assistance
to groups interested in preserving and maintaining the history of the
area. Two examples are the Jefferson Proving Ground Heritage Partnership,
an effort to record and capture the history of the area before and after
military occupation, and the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail, which
recently opened.The organizations support of these projects and
others has contributed to additional opportunities for heritage tourism
in southern Indiana.
Of course, a look at heritage tourism in southern Indiana wouldnt
be complete without the city of Madison. Called the princess of
the rivers by former CBS commentator Charles Kuralt, Madisons
rich history and impressive architecture offers visitors a rare and
With 133 blocks listed in the National Register of Historic Places and
1,700 buildings recognized as historically significant, Madison is practically
a blueprint for what it takes to establish a viable heritage tourism
trade. The city is considered by many the crown jewel of the state when
it comes to historic preservation and architecture.
Its very unusual that a community of only 13,000 people
can boast of a large base of historical places, said John Galvin,
president and executive director of Historic Madison Inc.
A non-profit organization founded in 1960 by John Windle, HMI has been
a driving force in the preservation and restoration of buildings and
monuments in the Madison area for more than 40 years.
Galvin admits that while preservation and restoration are the primary
focus of HMI and similar groups, the result of such efforts directly
translates into an economically viable sector of commerce.
People arent coming from out of town to shop at Wal-Mart,
said Galvin. They can shop at Wal-Mart in their own town.
Instead, Galvin said, its the number of places of historical interest
that create a draw to the Madison area. HMI owns and maintains 16 historic
properties, including the Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House (ca. 1818) and
the Schroeder Saddletree Factory (ca. 1878).
The HMI-owned properties, as well as the state-owned Lanier Mansion
and many other privately owned historic structures, all add to the allure
of Madison as a tourist destination based on the sheer volume and the
quality it has to offer.
According to Webb, director of Heritage Tourism for the National Trust
for Historic Preservation, Madison has an extremely strong product
when it comes to the growing heritage tourism industry.
And while Madisons heritage tourism product may in
part be attributed to serendipity,
much of it is by design. Aside from lobbying for ordinances that protect
the historic district, community leaders and groups, including HMI,
the Collaborative Marketing Project of Jefferson County, the Jefferson
County Board of Tourism and the Madison Area Convention and Visitors
Bureau, have produced some tangible evidence of their efforts in developing
heritage tourism in the area.
One specific example is the series of booklets which includes A
Visitors Guide to Madison Indiana, Walking Tour of Historic Madison,
Indiana and A Portrait of Historic Jefferson County Hanover
& Madison, Indiana. The booklets, professionally designed
by Robertson Design Group Inc. of Brentwood, Tenn., were the result
of the Collaborative Marketing Project of Jefferson County, which began
four years ago to implement a comprehensive land-use plan and a marketing
plan developed by county citizens.
The committee wanted to raise the bar for print material
for Madison and Jefferson County, according to Kim Nyberg, director
of programs for HMI and a member of the Collaborative Marketing Project
and Heritage Brochures Committee. The designer, said Nyberg, was chosen
for the quality of his product.
John Robertson of Robertson Design has been in the graphic design business
for 30 years. Robertson and a professional photographer visited Madison
several times to learn all he could about the area and to take pictures.
Robertson said that the firms goal was to embrace all of the history
and beauty of Madison and package it in a manner that would capture
the mood of the city and intrigue visitors. The brochures share a seamless
thread of design.
War re-enactors at Lanier Days.
It ties everything together for the visitor and
makes their visit more pleasant, Robertson said. He compared the
effect to one that a visitor to historic Williamsburg, Va., might experience.
When you visit (Williamsburg), all of the materials you receive
as a visitor have been thought through and planned so that they work
together. The whole thing is one complete identity and image,
That effect has been echoed in the Madison designs. The brochures and
signage, including trolley signs, all share the same typeface and sport
the same ribbon-centered logo.
Another way that Madison community leaders are promoting heritage tourism
is an initiative to secure designation by the federal government of
the community as a National Historic Landmark District. HMI, in cooperation
with the Jefferson County Historic Preservation Advisory Committee,
the National Park Service and the Indiana State Department of National
Resources-Division of Historic Preservation and Architecture has commissioned
a consulting firm, The Westerly Group, to work on the application for
Camille Fife, president of the firm, said that part of the process includes
a comprehensive survey to itemize all of Madisons historic resources.
This includes buildings, sites, objects and structures. Fife anticipates
the process could be completed as early as April, depending upon how
quickly the review returns from the National Park Service. If Madison
is recognized as a National Historic Landmark District, It should
be very good for promotion, said Fife.
Jon Smith, of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources-Division of
Historic Preservation and Archeology, said that getting Madison designated
as a National Historic Landmark district has been a long-term goal.
He said that if recognized by the federal government, Madison will join
the ranks of such cities as Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga.
Its like the difference between having a major league baseball
team and a minor league baseball team in your town, said John
Staicer, HMIs Saddletree project director. If Madison obtains
the designation, it will be a major coup for the community.
Can more be done to boost heritage tourism in the Madison area? According
to Webb, its important to target a specific market segment. One
segment that may be vital to the tourism trade, particularly heritage
tourism, is the aging baby boomer population. A substantial portion
of the population, boomers are looking for value-added
experiences, the kind that heritage tourism can offer, Webb said.
Also to consider, said Webb, is how many tourists the area can handle.
While tourism is considered basically a clean industry,
in that it doesnt pollute the environment, large numbers of tourists
can put hefty demands on infrastructure, such as roads, utilities and
In fact, one of the biggest challenges facing heritage tourism programs
is ensuring that the cities and towns can meet the demands raised by
a large number of visitors. Simply stated, heritage tourism has the
potential to generate a high volume of visitor traffic. It is up to
the community to develop that traffic as a benefit while preserving
the historical resources which generate it.
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