Strategic Community Partnerships: The Foundation to Revitalizing Tourism

Tourism’s revival and growth depends on the ability of tourism businesses to engage in community-led strategies. In many communities, tourism businesses are the main economic driver and a significant job creator. Tourism businesses often take on a leadership role in their community, helping harness resources to create a destination that is ready and willing to accept visitors.

Community partnerships are built on a few core principles or shared values:

  • Building trust and respect using methods that promote inclusivity
  • Committing to working on shared goals and promoting strategies that benefit the wellbeing of the community
  • Being accountable to the community, along with following trusted decision-making mechanisms

To help communities build a productive and lasting partnership, we share here Build Strategic Community Partnerships, one of many checklists available on TourismRecovery.ca, a free resource hub to support the reopening of the visitor economy.

Build Strategic Community Partnerships

Identify reasons and opportunities to engage the community or form partnerships, for example:

  • Shared tourism marketing strategies and messages
  • Shared services and use of resources
  • Need to coordinate shared worker plan
  • Coalition to advocate on behalf of industry to influence policy change or seek financial supports
  • Infrastructure plan to overcome limitations that impact visitor travel
  • Education, training, or employment services to help address staffing needs
  • Joint proposals to seek government funding

Identify potential community partners, such as:

  • Other businesses that rely on the visitor economy
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Economic development agencies
  • Indigenous economic development groups
  • Education and training providers
  • Career development services
  • Social agencies (e.g., immigrant serving groups)

Meet potential partners and create a plan:

  • Confirm interest in establishing a partnership (formal or informal)
  • Clarify shared goals and objectives/purpose
  • Identify opportunities to work together and projected outcomes or impacts
  • Identify requirements, such as:
    • Necessary resources (e.g., money, time, skills)
    • Individuals to consult, where needed
    • Essential communication and reporting requirements
  • Establish a community engagement strategy that considers a range of stakeholder needs:
    • Inform: focus on communication to keep the community informed
    • Consult/involve: seek individuals to contribute to the planning or execution of the plan
    • Collaborate: look for ways to leverage other work or capacity
    • Empower: work with individuals who have specialized expertise to address issues and inform solutions or actions, such as Indigenous Elders, legal experts, financial advisors
  • Develop action plan

In larger community-led initiatives, consider:

  • Establishing a formal working committee/group to lead the community plan
  • Setting up an ‘executive’ committee to manage governance requirements and key administration requirements

Develop partnership agreements, considering:

  • Purpose
  • Governance/oversight requirements
  • Strategic goals
  • Services and resources
  • Funding/financing
  • Communications
  • Reporting requirements

Maintain partnership engagement:

  • Monitor and evaluate engagement strategy, including:
    • Effectiveness of communications efforts
    • Level and type of community represented in the strategy
  • Schedule regular reviews/meetings to review progress and challenges
  • Establish communication processes
  • Hold collaborative planning meetings as needed (e.g., weekly, monthly)

Download the Build Strategic Community Partnerships Checklist here

Watch the Tourism Recovery webinar series