Fermata is rooted in the outdoors, with mud between our collective toes. Yet most Americans must travel away from home, at least a short distance, to actually be outdoors. According to the Brookings Institution an astonishing 83% of Americans live in an urban community. Roughly 2/3 of Americans cannot see the Milky Way from their homes (thank you, light pollution), and over a fifth of all people on this planet cannot see the night sky. How would the Greeks have sketched the constellations and conjured their mythology with a starless sky?
How do we now find the outdoors? We travel. Maybe we amble down the street to a local park, or whisk across the planet to a place where untouched nature still prevails. What about a hiking trip to El Triunfo in Chiapas (MX) to see the horned guan, to bear witness to the northern lights in Walhalla (ND), to be immersed in Japanese history in Nara (Japan), or perhaps enjoy a weekend at the National Apple Festival in South Mountain (PA)? This is travel with a purpose. What about fly fishing on Wissahickon Creek, hiking along the Laurel Highlands trail, or swimming in the frigid waters of Barton Springs?This is experiential tourism, connecting people to remarkable places.
The inevitable retort is that “all tourism is about experiences.” True. Yet there are real, authentic, transformative experiences, and then there are those that are fabricated. There are travelers who bring their homes with them, and there are those who try on other lives. There is fake, and there is real. We do real.
Our work in travel and tourism has spanned the globe. We have worked from Chino to China, from Pekin to Peking. Our tourism projects include strategic planning, marketing planning, branding and identity building, product development (such as our trails), digital media (web and social), printed materials (brochures, guides, rack pieces), and sustainable travel.
All of these services and products, however, have little value if they are not hitched to something of interest, something real. Our most important role is helping others see the value of the nature, culture, and history in their own figurative backyards. Fermata has worked in every state in the U.S., and a number of foreign countries. We can honestly say that we have never been to a place with nothing of interest (although we are frequently warned that “there ain’t nothing here” by the kid at the corner grocery). Great Bend (KS) is Cheyenne Bottoms. Walhalla (ND) is Pembina Gorge. Ohiopyle (PA) is the Youghiogheny River and whitewater rafting. The Poconos (PA)? Jim Thorpe and the Lehigh Gorge. Canadian (TX)? Lesser prairie-chickens and the Canadian River. Stuttgart (AR)? The “duck and rice” capital of America. Suffolk (VA)? The annual peanut festival and the most scrumptious goobers we have ever tasted.
As our founder has incessantly stated (trust us, it is a daily ritual), we believe in tourism as a means to an end, not just an end itself. Tourism can be, if properly done, much more than Club Med, cruise ships, and Disney. Fermata tourism attracts:
- People to places
- Masses to messages
- Markets to merchandise
Most tourism organizations (Chambers of Commerce, CVBs, state tourism offices) are skilled at attracting people to places. But what about the message? When the traveler visits your town, what do you want to say to them in the 15 seconds that you have their attention? What about “our town is a great place to raise a family and start a business?” What about “our community is a place where you can work where you play, and play where you work?” What about “we local people are trying to sustain both our way of life as well as our environment?”
What about the economic impacts of travel beyond heads in beds? Do you have a strategy to connect these moving markets (travelers) to goods and services (merchandise)? If not, the dollars will simply pass through your town, state, or country to a place where the goods and services are available. Economic 101 – all money will be spent.
Ecotourism, nature tourism, civic tourism, heritage tourism, geotourism, sustainable tourism, adventure tourism, and ethical tourism – few industries have developed more ways to say the same thing than tourism. Fermata believes in stating the obvious. We connect people to places.
Select Fermata Tourism Projects
Edge of Appalachia (Ohio) Nature Tourism Strategy
Flint Hills (Kansas) Experiential Tourism Strategy
Llano Grande WBC (Weslaco, Texas) Strategic Plan
Les Cheneaux (Michigan) Nature Tourism Strategy
Maine Nature Tourism Initiative (Executive Summary)
Nature Tourism Strategy for the Turtle Mountain and Rendevous Region of North Dakota
Nature and Experiential Tourism Strategy for Charles County, MD