Connects Downtowns to Heritage and Cultural Travelers

Download Main Street News PDF 2009/09

I'm pleased to announce that Heritage Travel, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has launched Gozaic (www.gozaic.com), an online community for people seeking heritage- and culture-rich travel experiences.

What is Gozaic?

Our vision for Gozaic (pronounced go-ZAY-ic) is to become the premier online destination for heritage travelers, enabling visitors to explore and enjoy places rich with history and culture and connect with other travelers who share their interests in those places. Visitors to Gozaic.com can browse through a variety of cities, towns, historic sites, heritage areas, cultural events and activities, and more to find places that match their particular interests. Gozaic also offers travel tools such as the ability to build itineraries, write reviews of places listed on the website, and post photos; but the foundation of Gozaic is the community – members sharing their thoughts and experiences from their travels.

The Beginnings of Heritage Travel and Main Street

Heritage and cultural travel, as an economic development strategy, had its genesis in 1978 as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Project. At that time I was a project manager in Hot Springs, South Dakota – a community of almost 5,000 residents in the southern Black Hills region of the state.

Hot Springs is near Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, and many other visitor attractions – so it was a natural decision to focus on tourism as a key part of its economic restructuring strategy. This type of tourism did not have the "cultural/heritage" label at the time, but efforts concentrated on a series of products and events that celebrated the history, architecture, and "small town" attributes of Hot Springs. These included guided and self-guided walking tours, movies in the park, and a "Christmas in the Hills" event. 

The result: the number of tourists visiting Hot Springs' historic downtown increased, as did the amount of money spent. Christmas in the Hills has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, and Hot Springs continues to be a draw for travelers to the region.

Main Streets Can Benefit from Gozaic

Main Streets like Hot Springs and your community can benefit from heritage tourism by becoming a Gozaic Partner. According to recent research sponsored by Heritage Travel, Inc. (commissioned by the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism Marketing Council, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and conducted by Mandala Research):

•  78 percent, or 118 million, of leisure travelers consider themselves cultural/heritage travelers;

•  28 percent, or 36 million, travelers will take a cultural/heritage-oriented trip in the next 12 months;

•  These travelers spend more on cultural/heritage trips than on the average trip: $994 versus $611;

•  Half of their trip expenditures are on activities, dining, and shopping; and

•  The number one driver for these travelers is to "seek travel experiences where the destination, its buildings, and surroundings have retained their character."

These travelers are the customers of historic downtowns, and Gozaic is a global stage for promoting and increasing exposure of the heritage and cultural businesses, activities, and events they have to offer. Consider just a few of the benefits of becoming a charter Gozaic partner:

•  Affiliation with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, America's leader in promoting places that matter. For nearly 40 years, the National Trust has been a leader in heritage travel with programs such as National Trust Tours, Historic Hotels of America, and Dozen Distinctive Destinations.

•  A multi-million dollar integrated marketing budget that will drive heritage and cultural travelers to the website and your participating destination.

•  An efficient marketing channel for your destination focused on cultural and heritage travelers.

I encourage you to take a closer look at the advantages that a Gozaic charter partnership has to offer. Visit http://join.gozaic.com to learn more.