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Community Tourism Development

The University of Minnesota Extension has a long history of assisting Minnesota communities that seek to promote local economic growth through tourism. Our Community Economics educators work with communities at all stages of tourism development — whether your community is in the early stages of development or working to diversify a mature tourism industry.


Cynthia Messer
Extension Professor
University of Minnesota Tourism Center
448 Coffey Hall
St. Paul, MN 55108-6005

Extension > Community > Community Tourism Development

Tourism Assessment Program

The Tourism Assessment Program can help your community open up to new visitors and strengthen your local economy. When your community conducts a Tourism Assessment Program, a team of community leaders and University faculty members gather and review data to analyze the community's tourism assets and potential for tourism development. The program includes a visit by the team to the community. What they uncover is provided back to the community in a written report and discussed with the community at a public meeting to spark discussion of potential next steps in tourism planning. The community can then use the information to help set priorities for local tourism development efforts.

Learn more about the Tourism Assessment Program.

Community Tourism Development Manual (NEW! 4th edition, 2017)

Community Tourism Development manual

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Some communities prefer to manage their tourism development process independently. A core tool for communities, Community Tourism Development applies theory to real life – delivering the essentials of planning, developing, and managing tourist destinations from a community standpoint.

This research-based, hands-on guide takes you step-by-step through the tourism development planning process. Designed to be used by communities at all stages of tourism development. More than two dozen worksheets and assessments provide easy-to-use tools to guide local work. View a manual sample.

Stories and community spotlights of how communities have found success with tourism illustrate core concepts. The 4th edition also includes access to case study videos. Order a copy.

Second Homeowners bring benefits to communities

Thinking regionally with tourism

Tourism isn't important just to the individual community. When people visit a place, they look around to see what else is going on in the area. Listen to an episode of Rural MN Radio, Jim and Marnie talk with Cynthia Messer, an Extension educator and tourism specialist with the U of M Extension's Tourism Center, about the impact of tourism in rural Minnesota and the importance of working regionally.

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