Published on Monday, April 28, 2008
See Travelmole TV interview at
Interview with Robert Billington
Think 'tourism destination' and the image that comes to mind is not likely to be a place known for its polluted rivers, abandoned businesses, high unemployment and disenfranchised local communities.
Yet, that is exactly what the Blackstone River Valley was when local community members launched the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council (BVTC) in 1985. Their goal was to revitalize the nine communities along the Blackstone River Valley in Rhode Island that formed the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and then ultimately became a victim of it when the Blackstone became the first polluted river in the Western Hemisphere and its industrial economy collapsed.
Working with a wide range of multi-stakeholders, BVTC has shown that tourism can play a key role in helping to revitalize a downtrodden economy and bring back a river once declared "dead" to the benefit of local people, business, and nature.
Through a destination stewardship approach to tourism development, including the preservation of the area's natural, cultural and historical heritage, BVTC has succeeded in uniting a community and awakening it to its new economic potential. With innovative projects like the Sustainable Tourism Development and Planning Laboratory, the Council continues to grow and enhance its many offerings, while sharing the lessons it has learned with other tourism destinations.
For example, this year-¬™s planning laboratory is due to be held from October 15 -18 is entitled -¬---Civic Tourism II - Defining and Animating Place is a convening of international thinkers and doers in Tourism Development-¬~ and-¬~¦
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