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Heritage Tourism Resources

Why Heritage Tourism Matters

Heritage tourism represents a vital intersection between preserving our cultural and historical assets and fostering economic development. It’s about more than just attracting visitors; it’s about telling the stories that shape our communities and enriching the experience of locals and tourists.

Heritage Tourism 101

The Intersection of Heritage, Tourism and Economic Development

Community members learning about tourism.

On January 17th, 2024, professionals, enthusiasts, and community leaders gathered at the Talent Community Center to delve into the world of heritage tourism. This workshop, titled “Heritage Tourism 101: The Intersection of Heritage, Tourism, and Economic Development,” was not just an event but a journey through the multifaceted world of tourism, where history and culture intertwine with economic prosperity.

Workshop Recap

Keynote Speaker Shawn Irvine: The Community Development Manager for the City of Independence, an Oregon Main Street town, Shawn brought invaluable insights into how heritage can be a powerful tool for community development.

Local Leadership Perspectives: We heard from Darby Ayers-Flood and Trish Callahan, mayors of Talent and Butte Falls, respectively. Their focus on integrating heritage into town planning with a strong emphasis on tourism provided practical strategies for other communities to consider.

Ashland’s Collaborative Model: Beverly Hovenkamp and Ken Engelund, representing Ashland’s Historic Preservation and Arts Committees, along with Sandra Slattery from the Ashland Chamber, showcased how collaboration keeps history alive while enhancing the visitor experience.

Large-Scale Projects: Carolyn Kingsnorth of Historic Jacksonville, Inc., and Belita Paluay from the Jacksonville Review shared their experiences with large-scale historic landscapes. Their approach to collaborative strategies offered a blueprint for successful heritage-based community projects.

Economic Insights: Over lunch, Katie Henry from the Oregon Heritage Commission Coordinator shared a video providing a data-driven look into how heritage significantly impacts the hospitality and tourism industries economically and culturally.

Tourism 101: Led by Thomas Moser from Travel Southern Oregon. He comprehensively overviewed Oregon’s Regional Destination Management Organization (RDMO) structure. This segment was particularly enlightening for those looking to navigate the intricate web of Oregon tourism.

The OTIS System: Participants were introduced to the Oregon Tourism Information System (OTIS), a platform that offers resources and support for individuals and businesses in the tourism industry. Understanding and utilizing OTIS is vital for anyone looking to make a mark in the heritage tourism sector.

Managing Google Business Listings: Thomas shared valuable insights on managing Google Business Listings, a crucial tool for businesses to improve their online visibility and attract visitors.

All presentations from Heritage Tourism 101 are available

Action Items and Resources for Maximizing Heritage Tourism Impact

The “Heritage Tourism 101” workshop was just the beginning. To continue the momentum and make tangible progress in the field of heritage tourism, we encourage participants to focus on the following action items:

Action Items:

  1. Describe Your Opportunity: Clearly define your area’s unique heritage tourism opportunity. What makes your location special? What stories are waiting to be told?
  2. Identify Partners: Determine who can help you bring your vision to life. This could be local historical societies, tourism boards, businesses, or community groups.
  3. Assess Your Needs: Understand what resources, support, or infrastructure you need to make your heritage tourism project a success.
  4. Set a Timeline: Create a realistic timeline for your project. Include key milestones to help track progress.
  5. Develop an Action Plan: Outline the steps needed to achieve your goals. Be as detailed as possible.
  6. Assign Responsibilities: Ensure that everyone involved knows their role and responsibilities. This clarity will help keep the project on track.


Claim Your Google Business Profile (GBP): Enhance your online presence by claiming and managing your Google Business Listing. This is crucial for attracting visitors and providing them with accurate information.

Submit Your Business to OTIS: Get your business listed on the Oregon Tourism Information System (OTIS). This platform is a key resource for anyone in the Oregon tourism industry.

Promote Events through OTIS: Utilize OTIS to submit and promote local events, further boosting the visibility of your heritage tourism initiatives.

Engage with Oregon Main Streets: Connect with the Oregon Main Street network for additional support, guidance, and resources in developing and promoting heritage tourism initiatives within your community.

Oregon Heritage, a program of Oregon Parks and Recreation, is a compendium of information and technical resources on grants, heritage preservation and more. The Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries, the State Historic Preservation Office and Oregon Main Street are all Oregon Heritage programs.

Heritage Tourism 201:

To further your understanding and involvement in heritage tourism, don’t miss our next event:

Workshop: Heritage Tourism 201: Telling Authentic Stories with Historical Re-enactments

Content + Delivery = Impact! Anna Sloan (SOHS Curator) and Danielle Mancuso (The Lantern) team up to talk about authentic storytelling, skills that will enhance your work as you appreciate the power of story, grounded in fact. If you’ve got a historical edge to your business or property, are a heritage advocate, and want to build your docent base, sign up now for this workshop and bring your staff, board, and volunteers along.

Sloan and Mancuso are just the opening act. Learn about how historical re‐enactments and historical storytelling are conducted in historic homes (Carolyn Kingsnorth, Historic Jacksonville, and Alice Mullaly, SOHS Hanley Farm), in cemeteries (Gail Nicholson, Friends of Jacksonville’s Historic Cemetery), and Laura Ahearn (McKee Bridge Historical Society), within a town (Peter Finkle, WalkAshland) or on a trail (Janeen Sathre, Applegate Valley Historical Society and Don Hamann, Butte Falls Community Forest Project). Get energized about how you can implement these ideas and practice historical re‐enactment techniques with renowned drama coach Betsy Bishop.

Looking Ahead:

As we gear up for our next workshop, we are excited to explore more successful partnership ideas. These ideas will be discussed and featured in Travel Southern Oregon’s newsletter over the next six months, showcasing the tangible results of strategic collaboration in heritage tourism.