This is an article from the magazine ‘Travel to Tomorrow‘.
The tourism of tomorrow will be rooted in local communities. In neighbourhoods, villages and cities that thrive and, as a result, enjoy welcoming enthusiastic visitors. A flourishing community is very much connected to its specific place; where people work together, where visitors can feel at home and residents can nurture and share their love for the place.
In the heart of almost every village in Flanders, there is a Lime tree. Laws were applied under its leafy canopy by our forefathers. According to tradition, the Virgin Mary had a spot by the trunk and the village events where celebrated in its shadow. It is a place where people come together to create memories. A tree is firmly rooted in its spot. It is connected to other living organisms and forms part of a greater entity. The tree blooms if all of the elements, e.g. sun, oxygen and water, are provided. The Lime as a symbol of flourishing destinations signifies the connections of people with the place and between residents, entrepreneurs and visitors. The local community, in turn, is part of and also inherently connected to the bigger world.
Place keepers under the Lime tree
A flourishing community is created where people and organisations feel connected to their place and one another. They work on behalf of their place and the community. Their actions form the roots of the Lime tree. It’s about an awareness of this commitment, assuming responsibility, collaborating, creating connections between people and a place and doing business on the basis of passion and creativity. We call them ‘place keepers’, the people who work with the place and one another on the basis of their commitment and take the initiative on behalf of their flourishing community. They are the backbone of a flourishing community, the trunk for our tree. They need encouragement, support and space for experimenting. We’ll tell you more on the following pages. You will discover experiments, steps and practices that may help you to say yes. Yes to travel to tomorrow. Yes to stepping up and becoming a place keeper.
In a flourishing community, all of the participants experience the added value of tourism. But what does this added value involve? Balance is a collective endeavour. What does flourishing mean for the place, its residents, entrepreneurs and visitors? The think-tanks provided inspiration but you must make your own interpretation of what this could mean for you, your community and your place!
A community thrives when the visitor
- feels genuinely welcome
- can experience the essence of a place
- feels a positive impact of his stay; new energy and inspiration, personal development, commitment to the place and the people that he/she meets
- respects nature, culture and the characteristics of the place
- takes the people and place to his heart, feels involved and wants to return or recommend the place to others
A community thrives when the entrepreneur / service provider
- is vital and profitable and can adapt effectively to change
- has good working conditions and appreciation
- is passionate and innovative/creative in terms of his product or service and monitors its uniqueness
- is an ambassador for the place where he/she works
- strives for high levels of satisfaction by means of genuine hospitality and professionalism
- takes account of the impact of his activities on the other place keepers and the place itself
- makes a positive contribution to the health of the society/ community/place in which the business is situated
A community thrives when the place
- is appealing, pleasant and safe
- encourages encounters between residents, entrepreneurs and visitors and does not exclude anyone
- showcases its unique character, and retains its identity, nature and culture
- offers space for creativity and experimenting
- draws upon the intellect of the local community
- connects to the rest of the world and makes a positive contribution to a flourishing planet
A community thrives when a residentEen gemeenschap floreert wanneer de bewoner
- loves living in the place, knows the place well and is proud of it
- is involved in the (tourism) policy of the place so that he/she supports the desired development of their place
- enjoys the positive impact of tourism: retention and strengthening of facilities, heritage, culture, income, jobs, intercultural encounters, …
- is not inconvenienced by tourism